As you might imagine, I didn’t get a lot of sleep last night. Most of the details I have about what happened came to me second-hand through a couple of teenagers who chatted with a cop last night while wandering around the neighborhood, trying to get the best view of the house in which the fugitive was holed up. The local TV news websites report that the guy is a convicted killer and one of the most wanted men in Illinois, but that’s about all they’ve released so far.
I happened to have picked up a new DV camcorder a couple weeks back, and I got an hour or so of footage of last night’s events. Once I get a chance to cut it into something watchable, I’ll see about posting it.
It seems this guy, who the cop with the bullhorn repeatedly called “Curtis,” was violating his parole, and the police learned about it. When they tried to take him in, he got away and took three children hostage yesterday evening, sometime before or around 7 PM. He eventually let the kids go, although the teenagers I talked with claimed he fired some shots off at the police as or after he did. Then he barricaded himself in the attic, trying to hide.
Of course, the police aren’t going to just leave and let the guy walk out of there. Somewhere around 1 PM last night, they got tired of waiting and went in. I got some great shots of a three-man SWAT team firing flash-bang grenades through the windows of the place. They (and some other teams) did this two or three times before they finally stormed the house.
They brought Curtis out a long while later, after they’d thoroughly searched the place. The teenagers reported he had a handgun but that it was empty and that he gave up when the cops finally found his hiding spot. I stuck around until they brought him out, marching him buck naked across the street to a fire truck where the EMTs checked him over. When I next saw him, he had some clothes on—a sweatsuit maybe—and the police stuffed him in the back of a cruiser and took off.
While this took a long time to play out, I never felt that my family or I was in danger at any point. Well, except maybe for me when I was filming the house, wondering if a stray shot might pop out of one of the windows and tag me with a karmic penalty for taking silly risks. The Beloit Police Department did a fantastic job of clamping down on the situation, getting the kids free (which I didn’t see happen), and taking Curtis in. It might have taken a lot of effort and disrupted the neighborhood for a bit, but no one—including Curtis—was seriously hurt, and that makes it worth it.