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When the Man was Arrested on our Door Last Night

Schedule post has been derailed in favor of a story.

It just sounded like an argument, a shouting match without violence. But then the woman let out three sharp, chilling screams. One, two, three. Either she was terrified or she was trying to get the neighbors involved. Either way…

Micah picked up his phone and raised an eyebrow at me. I nodded and he quietly called 911. He explained that the argument had been going on for five or ten minutes but now a woman had screamed and we were worried. The dispatcher took our building info and let him go.

I was relieved but also slightly concerned in case this whole thing was a misunderstanding. But then the screaming started again, not 3 piercing ones but intermittently.

The police were here in under 5 minutes, maybe 3. There’s a station about 5 minutes drive away (perhaps less) and there were probably cars even closer.

We heard them running up the stairs, the fight was still going on and she screamed a few times. We couldn’t tell them which apartment, but it must have been evident from inside the stairwell. They began beating on the door and yelling for him to open up “Police!”

At this point, I grabbed my computer and dove for the corner in the living room where our couches meet. On the offchance that someone started shooting, any bullets would have to go through some walls and couches first. I started tweeting because I wanted to escape, for some part of me to be free. I felt trapped in the apartment.

Micah came over and held me. He said it reminded him of the time he was 14 and their home was broken into. He had to call 911 before hiding his siblings (and himself, they were home alone). And then keep the toddler quiet until the police got there.

They didn’t have to break down the door. The man apparently opened it and we heard running. Our door is just at the top of the stairs and that’s where they caught him. Slammed him into it. We could hear it shaking (though fortunately deadbolted) as they told him to put his hands behind his head. We heard a metallic clink of what must have been cuffs.

Then everything got muffled. No more shouting and yelling, just conversation. The door still shook, I don’t know who was leaning on it…the man or an officer. Eventually they took him out and away in their cars. The building was eerily quiet after all the noise.

We have no idea what the situation was. If it was between the residents of that apartment, we’ve never heard anything loud from them before. Perhaps it was someone visiting, a boyfriend or ex-boyfriend.

As we got ready for bed, coming down from the adrenaline, I mentioned my blog post about saving money by living in a lower-income area. And that what happened wasn’t related to where we live. It was clearly a fight between two people who already had some relationship. A fight that escalated.

Abuse, domestic violence, and dysfunctional relationships aren’t limited to any demographic (neither are drugs and murder). As long as we were in an apartment building or condo situation this was going to be a possibility. Even in a house, it’s still possibly to hear particularly loud things happening at your neighbors.

Later on, I learned that the man wasn’t actually the one at fault—though that’s the cultural assumption. The woman is his ex-wife and she broke into our building through the laundry room window. Since then, the management has refused to reinstall the window and has just boarded it up in case she comes again. She also slashed his tires. The particular neighbor seems like a sane guy, so his assertions combined with the fact that she broke a window trying to get in makes me believe him on this one.

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Neighbors from hell | LivingAlmostLarge
June 7, 2008 at 3:15 pm

{ 28 comments… read them below or add one }

Momma @ Tales From The Road Less Traveled June 6, 2008 at 11:27 am

What a horrible night! I’ve lived in apartments for most of my adult life, and agree with you completely that it’s both a comfort and a source of distress that domestic violence situations occur in all demographics. I’m glad you’re both ok and that there were no shots fired. I’m praying for the family whose life is in upheaval right now too.

Kacie June 6, 2008 at 11:39 am

Yikes! That is so incredibly scary.

GOOD FOR YOU for calling the police. Too many people try to ignore things like that, reasoning that it isn’t their business.

Violence is everyone’s business.

Katie June 6, 2008 at 11:56 am

Though you are more likely to hear these things happen in an apartment or condo, the good news is that this can make you safer. Imagine if she had been in a house where no one could hear what was happening to her and there was no one to call for help.

Susan June 6, 2008 at 12:13 pm

Wow! You had quite a scary experience. I had that pins-and-needles feeling just reading your story.

You and Micah did the right thing by calling 911. If it were not for you, who knows what might have happened!

mrsmicah June 6, 2008 at 12:13 pm

@Katie, I thought of that, it’s comforting to know that if I called for help someone should hear me. The fast response of the police also made me feel that if something bad happened in our apartment and a neighbor (or we) called the police they’d get there quickly.

Frugal Dad June 6, 2008 at 12:18 pm

Glad to hear you guys are safe and sound. The apartment/house safety argument reminds me of my grandfather trying to convince me we were safer alone camping the woods than staying in a hotel. As he put it, in a hotel you never know who’s sleeping next to you or coming to visit someone sleeping next to you. I guess the same could be said for apartment living.

Sounds like you guys did the right thing by getting the police involved. Could have turned out a lot worse.

Emily @ Taking Charge June 6, 2008 at 12:44 pm

I agree with the folks above — good for you for calling for help. We learned about the Kitty Genovese story — where a woman in New York was stabbed to death for 30 minutes as 38 neighbors saw/heard and did nothing — in Sunday school as a child and it has always haunted me. They call it the bystander effect. While I live in an apartment complex and feel safe knowing if I am in trouble, my noise will hopefully alert people, there are always those folks who just don’t want to get involved and I do worry about that. So kudos to you guys for taking some responsibility and being good neighbors. I’m sure you got some good karma for that πŸ™‚

Kristen June 6, 2008 at 12:54 pm

My fiance is a police officer, and we happen to have a neighbor who has some drinking/drug/domestic violence problems. It is scary to have that go on right outside of your house. Unfortunately for us, it also creates some tension with the neighbors since my fiance has had to arrest him. And you’re right that it could happen in any neighborhood. You wouldn’t believe some of the calls the police get and the neighborhoods where they get them!

Amphritrite June 6, 2008 at 1:25 pm

I’m sorry you had to endure this; i grew up in the poorest neighborhood in my hometown, and I remember, very vividly, a fight across the street which unleashed bullets into my next-door-neighbor’s house. Had the bullets been an inch lower, they would have lost their newborn baby.

This is probably due to the demographic of that neighborhood, but it’s important to remember that it takes all types to fill all of the “nice” neighborhoods, too. Money doesn’t care if you’re rich or poor, black or white, peaceful or violent, drinking or sober, angry or happy.

Be careful, and keep your chin up. This was probably an isolated incident.

BeThisWay June 6, 2008 at 1:29 pm

Yikes! Thank goodness it turned out well.

I’m also going to praise you for getting involved. There’s a big news story right now about a man who was hit by a car and everyone just stands around doing nothing – offering the seriously injured man no assistance at all.

We are all part of the same community and, IMO, are responsible for doing what we can to assist those in trouble, as long as it doesn’t jeopardize your own safety. That’s exactly what you and Micah did.

Yay for you.

mrsmicah June 6, 2008 at 1:34 pm

@Emily, I thought of the Kitty Genovese story too, though I didn’t remember her name.

@Amphritrite, Micah grew up in one of those neighborhoods too. That’s where the people broke in while he was still in the house. Fortunately I haven’t seen any bullets in the year we’ve been here.

Grey June 6, 2008 at 1:59 pm

Thank you for calling the police. I’ve been there.

Emily June 6, 2008 at 1:59 pm

WTG getting the police involved. I am glad you’re safe and hopefully settling down after a scary incident!

Kaye June 6, 2008 at 2:28 pm

I hate that you two had to go through that last night, but I am certain that the woman who was screaming was quite thankful you went through it “with” her–as some people might have turned a deaf ear, as others have noted.

Also–good for Micah for being a supportive husband and calming you when you (and likely he as well) were scared.

It was a bad situation that could have been much worse had the police (what a great response time!) not been called.

K. June 6, 2008 at 3:33 pm

This is a good reminder that domestic abuse crosses all economic lines. Good for you for calling for help. It’s so easy to sit back and expect someone else to take action.

Fabulously Broke June 6, 2008 at 3:37 pm

VERY scary. I would’ve freaked out… man…

Pinyo June 6, 2008 at 4:04 pm

That was a scary experience. I am glad you and your husband are okay. And good thing that he was there with you.

Sarah F. June 6, 2008 at 4:24 pm

Whoa, I’m glad that you guys are safe. I know that feeling all too well. When we lived in an apartment during college, there were two domestic disputes in the apartment to the right of us, same apartment, two different couples. One of them involved the guy actually busting down the door to get to the girl because she would not let him into the apartment, the other time another guy was beating up on his girlfriend in the bathroom that was on the adjacent wall to our apartment. I was THIS close to calling 911, but in both instances the situation diffused/cops arrived at the scene before I was able to call.

Dad June 6, 2008 at 6:03 pm

I does go with apartment / condo living. I’ve seen / heard things like it in every apartment I’ve lived in. Staying out of the way and calling the police is the best response. I also am very glad they responded so quickly. That speaks well of your local department. I hope this remains rare.

Mrs Micah's Mom June 6, 2008 at 8:56 pm

When I lived in Vancouver, a man came down the hall of our building saying, “Call the police,” and adding something about a knife or stabbing. I called the police and called through the door that I had done so. As soon as I said I’d called the police, the other neighbors started getting involved. When the police arrived they couldn’t get into the building. Someone in the hall said he’d go down to let them in. I called out the window to them that someone was coming. It turned out that a woman had been stabbed. It wasn’t clear whether it was by herself or by someone else. And all this was in a good part of town.

Andrew Stevens June 6, 2008 at 10:20 pm

You can read about Kitty Genovese here. While the story doesn’t say good things about human nature, it also doesn’t say nearly the bad things that people seem to think. It wasn’t 38 people who knew about the attack despite the New York Times’ reporting at the time. It was about a dozen people who witnessed some portion of the attack and none of them saw it all. Moreover, two of them did intervene. One yelled and caused the attacker to break off and another called the police near the end of the attack (when he became aware of it). Most witnesses were entirely unaware that an assault was going on at all, nevertheless a murder. The New York Times story was sensationalism.

Megan June 7, 2008 at 8:39 am

I think one of the keys to this story is that the police came SO quickly. That’s a great feeling in your building.

I used to prosecute domestic violence cases, and if this was DV, everyone’s right, you’ll find that everywhere. We had defendants from the “best” and “worst” neighborhoods in the area.

I agree with the notes on the Kitty Genovese story. It was very much sensationalized and turned into a “great story.” And after learning the truth about that story in university, it made me wonder what I would do. If I were walking alone and saw someone getting stabbed, would I intervene? Probably not, no, for fear of getting stabbed myself. I would likely run and hide, to be honest. But I would immediately call the police and try to find help.

Amanda June 7, 2008 at 9:37 am

Dear friend, I’m glad you and Micah are alright. That must’ve been so scary.

Happy you’re ok…. πŸ˜€

Mrs. Nathan June 7, 2008 at 6:19 pm

Hi, your husband was just here for dinner and told me the whole story. YIKES! When I used to live in H-burg a man was shot and killed on the sidewalk outside of my house by cops when said man reached into his pocket for a cellphone, which cops thought was a gun. Horrifying. Thankfully I happened to be away for the weekend and did not see it firsthand. Did you ever find out what happened?

Funny about Money June 7, 2008 at 10:34 pm

Dear God. That’s terrifying.

We used to live in a neighborhood–a very pretty gentrified area surrounded by blight–where some happening occurred every week. That’s where I first developed an affection for German shepherds…

You did the right thing to call 911, and it’s wonderful the police showed up promptly. Around here it can take an hour to get the cops to arrive–as happened when SDXB caught a couple guys climbing in the front window & dialed 911 with the phone in one hand and his pistol in the other.

Stay out of domestic violence. Those situations can be extremely dangerous for anyone who interferes. Let the pro’s handle it.

fathersez June 7, 2008 at 11:58 pm

Thank God you and Mr. M are fine. It must have been a terrifying ordeal.

I am glad that we have Draconian gun control laws in our country, so the possibility of domestic quarrels escalating into shooting matches are negligible.

LWC June 8, 2008 at 8:59 pm

My husband and I had the same thing happen while staying in a ritzy $400 per night hotel. (And no we weren’t footing the bill πŸ™‚

We called hotel security first – they were no help at all. And we could CLEARLY hear him hitting her. And her sobbing and wailing.

By the time the cops arrived they had to take her away in an ambulance. I’d be thrilled that a) you called right away and b) they came immediately!

I’ve always felt bad that I wasted time calling hotel security and waiting for their intervention.

I’m glad to hear that your story ended fairly well!

Living Off Dividends & Passive Income June 10, 2008 at 4:37 pm

beats watching a moive, huh? πŸ˜€

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