My Brooklyn neighborhood, Midwood, is one of the lower-crime areas of the borough as well as of all New York City. We do have our share of low-level crimes, typically burglary, graffiti, car break-ins, and the like.  Probably the most common category of quality-of-life problems we have involves car accidents; sadly there have been pedestrians and drivers injured and killed by collisions between those walking and cars, buses and trucks. My previous car was rendered unusable when a driver T-boned me after speeding through a red light (this happened in late March 2014, and fortunately I was not hurt).

Rarely is this region the setting for a high-profile shooting, but one took place just four blocks from my house on late morning, Thursday, January 28. I was doing work on my computer and kept hearing the loud roar of helicopters. Typically that means there has been a major auto accident, but it could also indicate a crime scene. I checked a news website and read that there had indeed been a shooting between a robbery suspect and police officers!

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Little by little information came out that three men had robbed a nearby store (a Verizon shop) on Avenue P, and then they fled when cops gave chase. They ended up on Avenue O, my avenue, and officers shot one of the suspects.
My interest was piqued: I pushed aside my work and walked west to see that the crime scene was off-limits. Yellow crime-scene tape was draped across the road. Police vehicles were parked throughout the next two streets. Media people, with cameras and microphones, arrived at the scene. Curious onlookers flocked.

I spoke briefly with a delivery man who told me, excitedly that he had been bringing in items at the corner store on East 15th Street when he heard the shooting. I walked closer to the roped off area and fell into conversation with a frum young man, who asked me for details of what happened. He had heard that someone was killed but I told him I'd read and heard that no one was killed, but a suspect had been critically injured and taken to an area hospital.

I stood a while longer and soaked up the atmosphere, and then walked home. This got me to thinking about a variety of things: first, I was unhappy about this incident but grateful that was atypical to my neighborhood. Second, many other parts of New York City experience much worse than this. Third, I should show gratitude. Although I didn't think I was in the position to recite a Shehecheyanu bracha, I should keep in mind a sense of gratitude that I was not hurt, no cops were hurt or killed, and even that no suspects were killed.

This morning I spoke briefly with one of my next-door neighbors, an Orthodox man, who told me that one of his sons had been at a religious school right near the incident and he had heard the shooting. This is a sobering event but we are relatively safe. But I could go further and ponder, is anyone really and fully safe? No. I don't think we should go about in a constant state of panic, especially in my hometown, but one should always be aware and clear-headed, as often as possible, so as to be safer. I believe this a common sense dictum, as well as a religious concept. Help me find some scripture to back this up!

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