April 18, 1998
Oceanside, California, USA

I have just spent the last half-hour standing over a dead man, with a 9mm bullet in his chest. He was in his sixties, and was wearing a white jogging suit adorned with a US Navy logo. There was the smell of liquor on his breath. A domestic dispute had taken place. When his wife ran out the front door, he chased after her with a second world war style 30 caliber rifle. A police officer arrived on the scene. The man aimed the riffle at the officer. From a distance of 80 feet, the officer fired two shots at the man, dropping him on his door-step.

Today, I have been riding along on engine #2 of the Oceanside Fire Department. It has been slow day. It is now almost midnight and we have only had one other call so far today. I’m here as a guest of my new friend, Mark, who is a friend of a friend from home.

The shooting took place just half a mile from the fire station. When we arrived on the scene, we found a swarm of police cars blocking the streets of an upper middle class neighborhood. We immediately went straight to the body and began administering resuscitation procedures. It was the first time I had ever seen a dead body out of a casket. Looking into the man’s eyes was kind of freaky, but other than that, I was cool with it. I had my camera concealed under my fireman’s jacket. There were no police officers looking... but I couldn’t do it. The picture wouldn’t have turned out without the flash. I didn’t want to take the chance of irritating the cops.

There were five paramedics working on the man at the same time. My job was to hold the intravenous. There was almost no chance the man was going to live again, but they kept sticking him with needles, pumping his chest, and trying to force tubes down his throat anyway. When we got him into the ambulance, I was asked to continue the CPR. After 20 thrusts to the area over his heart, they asked me to stop. He was then pronounced dead. I still had the camera around my neck. No cops were looking. I squeezed off two shots. There was no point in taking him to the hospital. We covered the body and took it back to the door-step where it had been laying when we found it.

There is a fireman behind me snoring. Most of the firemen are now asleep. I’m going to bed too. I hope we see some more action tonight.