It has been a busy couple of weeks for me, but I wanted to share what Susan, I, and a couple of friends witnessed last Friday night. I should preface this post with the some background information about my history. I tend to witness and attract some craziness in my life. In college I came across a person passed out drunk in their car on the train tracks. I had to punch the guy in the face to wake them up and move their car before a train came. I have witnessed a bus boy and waiter get into a fist fight in the middle of dinner rush at a restaurant. I have seen a security guard at Target chase down a shoplifter, jump in the back of their truck, through the DVD player out of the back of the truck, shattering in the process, and the driver speed off with the security guard still in the back of the truck. Once at IHOP our waiter told us that at one point in his life that he has had sex with a dog. Like I said, I have heard and seen some weird things. That being said, this event ranks right up there.
Susan, two of our friends, and I went to Nashville last Friday night for the George Strait concert. It was George’s last in Nashville and we had free tickets, so it was an easy choice to go. Before the concert, we went Rotier’s in West End near Vanderbilt for dinner. Rotier’s is a famous eatery in Nashville and we wanted to try their famous French bread burger. About halfway through dinner, a couple of cops that were also enjoying dinner in the restaurant jumped up and headed out the door, apologizing to the owner. This caught my attention, so I wondered what was going on. A few moments later, we hear sirens everywhere, with the cars converging in the parking lot across the street. The we hear it. Pop! Pop! Pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, pop! I am standing up, trying to go outside to get a closer looks. Susan is pulling me down onto the booth. Candace is asking if it is fireworks. The waitress is telling us that the glass in the restaurant is bullet proof. People are dropping to the floor, more cops are pulling up, and we all have questions.
Five cops had shot and killed a man outside a business across the street. The man was obviously dead, and a crowd was beginning to gather. There was glass everywhere, and police tape restricting several people from accessing their vehicles.
At first the speculation was that this was a robbery attempt gone awry, and that is what we thought for most of the night. After the concert, we checked the local news and got some information. The victim was Aaron Dino Smith, Jr., a 51-year-old Franklin man on parole with a lengthy criminal history. Mr. Smith was a suspect in a robbery from March 13 in Smyrna. Credit cards from that theft were used at a business in Nashville earlier in the day, and a detective went to the business to investigate. Mr. Smith arrived and was confronted my the detective, which ultimately led to Mr. Smith pulling a gun on the officer. At this point, the detective let the suspect flee on foot and it was then that Mr. Smith carjacked a lady in a Buick Enclave (same car as Susan). A high-speed chase ensued through rush hour traffic. Nashville PD decided to pull back due to safety concerns and just followed the car with their helicopter and by tracking the car owner’s cell phone. Mr. Smith made his way to West End, ditching the car in a parking garage across the street from us. Metro Police converged on Mr. Smith while he tried to enter a business. Mr. Smith aimed his gun first at his head and then at the officers. It was at that point that the officers opened fire and deprived this world of Mr. Smith’s presence any further.
We live in Memphis, which has one of the worst crime rates in the country. I have lived here for fourteen years and never witnessed a shooting this close before. Go figure that a one night trip out-of-town to a “nice area of town” in a city not associated with quite the criminal stigma that Memphis is would be the situation in which I witnessed an event like this.