WHEN MY CITY EDITOR yelled out that she needed someone to help cover a shooting at the County General Hospital in East Los Angeles, I sunk low behind my computer, trying to be invisible. As a young metro reporter focusing on transportation back in 1993, I had barely typed a word about violent crime.

Forty minutes later, I lingered near one of the hospital’s side entrances, unable to spot any fellow journalists milling around. So, I popped open the door, figuring they might be inside. That’s when a tubby police officer whipped around the corner, telling me in an angry whisper that the gunman who’d already shot three doctors — one with a .38-caliber slug to the head — was holding two people hostage just around the bend. “Get down and go!” he said, his hand gripping a revolver.

I left, lucky only to have been chastised, and discovered the media scrum in an adjacent parking lot. It was now your basic hurry-up-and-wait while authorities tried to end the standoff with the gunman, a disgruntled patient who lived on Skid Row. They hauled him off in a squad car after several hours, and as I angled for a view of his face, an overly aggressive TV cameraman whacked me in the back of the head with his lens. But I still noticed the suspect resembled Richard Ramirez, the “Night Stalker” serial killer who had terrorized Los Angeles the previous decade.


Discuss the art and love of writing.

Created on Jun 21, 2020
By @gurlic