There was more action in my neighborhood last night than on the big screen. While John and I enjoyed The Descendants, I couldn’t lose the thought, what was that helicopter doing? From the time Cooper got home from school around 4:30 until we left for the movies two hours later, there was a helicopter hovering just west of our house. At one point, it shifted just enough so we could read “sheriff” on the side of it through our binoculars and camera. This morning’s Sarasota Herald-Tribune solved our mystery. As Cooper was walking home from school and a half a dozen police cars passed him, that was a SWAT team assembling. They were setting up shop around the corner because a stand-off was in progress. A man robbed the Wells-Fargo on the corner of U.S. 41 and Weber Street and was thought to have run home to his house on Bougainvillea Street. The SWAT team evacuated neighboring homes and surrounded the house for eight hours, but when they finally entered at midnight, the suspect wasn’t inside.
The suspect is 52 year-old James William Holderman. Part of me is sympathetic toward him because he reminds me of John – a guy who lost almost everything over the past few years – his business, his family and next up was his house. Unlike John, he was described as being in a downward spiral. According to neighbor accounts, he was a nice guy who hit hard times and snapped. But now reports are saying that he was a prior felon; that’s the part that makes me unsympathetic. Still, I’d hate to judge over media hype. All I could find online was that he failed to leave his information after causing damage to an unattended vehicle in 2008, but the local papers are saying he’s committed armed robbery before.
The story of Stephen Trantel comes to mind; he was a stockbroker who didn’t tell his wife he lost his job, instead he started robbing banks to maintain his income. It’s surprising what people will do when faced with struggle. It probably surprises the people committing the crimes the most. The thought, how did I get here, must seep in while you’re threatening a harmless bank teller with a weapon.
These sad, sad stories just pull me further out of my rut. Times are hard, but they haven’t turned criminal. On my worst day, I can be thankful for that much. And as for today, with either a nice guy who made a criminal mistake or an actual armed criminal running loose in my neighborhood, I’ll be keeping the doors and windows locked.