Oct 17, 2007

Somebody having a bad day

Yesterday afternoon, right as we were coming up on deadline for this week's paper, we heard over the scanner the report of a man down near the port of Ilwaco with a knife. As these initial reports can turn out to be wrong sometimes we usually hang tight for a little bit and see how it plays out. A few minutes later we heard the call for all available units to respond and I grabbed my gear and hit the road.

I had a bit of an internal conflict as I was driving, as I usually keep my long lens in my trunk, but had not returned it there after bringing it inside after Friday night's football game. As I live only a few blocks from the port I was debating whether or not to stop off there along the way and get it or just head straight down. I knew they'd be closing off streets as the threat was apparently real, and I wasn't sure how close I'd be able to get and thought having a longer lens may help.

I decided it was better to just get there and see what I could do about getting close. I also knew I had a 2X tele-converter in one of my bags that I could fall back on if I had to.Upon arriving in Ilwaco I decided to park in one of the big parking areas and then walk down to where I thought the incident was taking place. I took a back road and ended up behind a police car that was parking in the middle of the road. A state trooper pulled up right behind me a second later. I was surprised when the officer in front waved me through. As I entered the parking area I started couting the cop cars, about eight in all, surrounding an old teal truck in the area just to my left. I basically just drove right into the middle of what was happening.I parked and got out, grabbed my 80-200 f 2.8 lens and threw on the 2X converter and started figuring out what I wanted to do. The man at large was in his truck and yelling at Flint Wright, the chief of police. I was about 60-yards or so away as I worked my way over to a place where I could get a cleaner view of what was happening. A Sheriff's deputy said later that once the man saw me with my camera he decided to get out of the vehicle and approach chief Wright. I kind of knew this at the time, as a couple times he would yell at Flint and then turn around and look at me. I couldn't make out what he was saying from that distance, but I found out later that his plan was to try and force the cops to shoot him, a suicide-by-cop as it were.
Flint tried several different ways of communicating with him, but as it wore on you could tell that he was getting nervous and just wanted him to get down. When the man turned to look my way again Flint took his chance and tackled the man, easily taking him down. The other officer's swooped in and handcuffed him and put him in a squad car.I shot about 9-10 frames of the take down, but only one was in focus enough to use, thankfully it was at one of the key moments of the take down. I was happy with the shot, but did wish I'd had the longer lens, as the teleconverter made the image not as clear as I'd have liked, especially after cropping down the unneccessary background of the picture. All-in-all, I think it works pretty well, especially in telling the story.The only downside to it all ( for me) is that I got back too late to make this week's paper. Looks like my editor wants to give it good play next week though, as this kind of thing hardly ever happens here. Kinda cool to see the local police in action like this from time to time, especially when it goes as well as this did (nobody hurt, a potential crisis overted).

A tell you one thing, I made sure to put my long lens back in the car this morning before heading off to work...



Anonymous said...

dude, i'm glad you didn't get shot with that knife, cool sequence! - dp

Anonymous said...

Yes, Capt. Green Sox, I too am glad that I was not shot with a knife, as that would have potentially hurt, a lot.

Bob Frank said...

wow great story we finnaly had action in ilwaco.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

I like the State Trooper just standing there doing nothing except keeping his hands warm.

Good job Flint that's why they pay you the big bucks