Thursday, August 31, 2006

Officer John Schroeder


I'm sure these words yelled over a police radio cause every news photog to pause for a second. It caused me to pause and think to what is ahead in the hours and days to come. I prayed to God that the officer was going to make it as I headed to the scene.

Unfortunately, the officer down did turn into a fatality. Officer John Schroeder, a ten year veteran of the Cleveland Police Department, was struck down in the line of duty early Thursday morning. He was hit once under the armpit, where his bulletproof vest offered no protection. It seems the shot that killed him was a "fluke". The suspect/scumbag fired through a closed door with a .357 magnum at the officers who were trying to serve a warrant.

Officer Schroeder leaves behind a wife and a ten month old baby boy.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Rest In Peace, Officer Schroeder. May God bless you, your baby boy, your wife and family and your fellow Police Officers who put their life on the line every day to protect us.

Please visit The Officer Down Memorial Page. Please keep these officers in your thoughts and prayers.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

What?? You Actually Believed It?

Did you ever get a press release from a Public Relations person and believe what was written on it? If you do, you're either new in the news business or a very trusting soul. Either way, you're in for a big let down. You aren't going to get what you read about. It's like when a package at the grocery store says "New and Improved!!" so you buy it and then when you get home you notice that they've put less in the box and you've paid more money for less product.

So, where am I going with this? Well recently I was sent to a location for a live shot where we have been before. I wrote about it here. It's the house that was used in the movie, A Christmas Story. Basically, a guy bought the house and was renovating it to look like the house did in the movie. He's looking to turn it into a tourist attraction and museum. Well it has been nine months since we were last there and now, the day has arrived. To quote the press release, "The house used in the popular holiday classic, A Christmas Story has been restored to it's original 1983 movie appearance."

I get to the house to set up the shot and am just stopped in my tracks by what I see. It is incredible. Remarkable. Astounding. I can't find my thesaurus to come up with more words to describe what I saw. So I'll let the pictures I took show you the house in it's glory.
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

And now, onto the inside. It was just amazing how good it looked. They did a hell of a job.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Yeah, it's a beautiful renovation alright. We were handed chicken shit so we made chicken shit sandwiches and fed it to the public. I can't begin to tell you how upset I was at having to do the live shot here. My reporter felt the same way. I swear, if I'm ever given a press release for a live shot at this house, I'm heading out ASAP and eyeballing it.

And if you ever believe a press release from a PR person again, I have a bridge in Brooklyn for sale.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Are We There Yet???

A total of 190 miles traveled total today, including a trip on the Ohio Turnpike to look for a semi-tractor trailer that was supposedly pulled over with a "suspicious" cargo. It was not to be found however. It was cleared up by the time I got there.

I did come through with fire video of two vacant businesses. Woo Hoo.

Sometimes it's just nice to get out and drive especially when the weather overnight is clear and cool.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

What's That Boom?

I had ended my shift without a lunch and headed home. It usually have a forty-five mile drive home. Luckily, traffic is mostly going against me and I get home within an hour. I usually take 480 East to 422 East. I drive this almost every day. As I'm getting on 422 from 480, traffic suddenly comes to a stop in front of me. I hit the brakes and as I do, I hear a muffled "boom" in the distance. I knew it had to be a car accident. I flip on my scanner and as I'm sitting in stuck traffic, I hear the Warrensville Heights dispatcher calling police to a car vs. semi accident. The accident happened pretty much right in front of me.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

I hear sirens behind me as all of the drivers try to get over to let the emergency responders get by. A guy in a pickup crossed a grassy median, clipped two cars and hit a semi head on, doing around 70 m.p.h. Witnesses said the pickup literally exploded and the engine flew into the air landing about 50 feet away from the pickup. The driver of the pickup was killed instantly.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

I haven't been getting much spot news lately. I was beginning to wonder if people had stopped getting in car accidents, killing each other or starting fires. Ok, not really. I just was in a drought for the spot news. It was refreshing to get into the middle of the action again. Especially when it happens right in front of you.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Sunday, August 13, 2006

What's Going On?

We lose Jorge Guapo, Ewink and now Smitty?? What in the world is going on??

Saturday, August 12, 2006


After spending the whole of Thursday morning at the airport telling people about the foiled terror plot, I felt a little tired and so I went to get a cup of coffee. Luckily, about seventy feet down from one of our plug in boxes is a Starbucks. So, I go over and decide on something with a little kick. Coffee with a double shot of espresso.

As I watch the barista make the coffee and add the second shot, she is asked a question and walks off, leaving my coffee sitting there. Another clerk comes up and asks if that was my coffee. I answered in the affirmative and said it was a double shot.

The second clerk proceeds to add two more shots of espresso to my already caffeine injected brew.

Do I raise a finger to stop her? Nope.

Folks, let me tell you that this was the stupidest move I think I've ever made.

I take back my hazardous waste Venti and proceed to drink it at a moderate pace. It was as if I'd shot it straight into my jugular. A quadruple shot espresso/coffee mix coursing through my veins made me a little, uh...manic hyper. I could feel my eyeballs jumping.

My heart was beating faster than I think it ever did before. And my right hand started shaking with tremors. Only my right hand. My drinking hand. It shook like it wanted to jump off my arm and strangle me for putting it through all that caffeine.

Thank God, I didn't need to shoot off the shoulder because I couldn't have held it still if my life depended on it. I couldn't sit still for the next three hours.

Worst. Experience. Ever.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Overnight Fun

When I worked overnights in Pittsburgh, I was taught something. It wasn't necessariy bad per se. It was a bit juvenile but not evil. The overnight videographer I was filling in for told me about a little trick he knew.

On the north side of Pittsburgh, there was a Brownstone home that was distinguished by two Mustangs parked outside. As for most urban homes, it didn't have a garage so on street parking was the rule. The Mustangs were each different colors. One was pastel yellow and the other one was purple.

It was discovered by accident that the car alarms were triggered by the transmit frequency of our 2-way radios. I was told if I wanted a laugh on a quiet night, I could drive by and just one click of the radio would set off both alarms.

Now to a young kid starting out in TV, this was pure gold entertainment. I'd park the live truck along the park that bordered the home and one click the radio.

WAHH WAHH WAHH get the idea.

The light in the house would go on and the car alarms would go on for about a minute before being shut off from inside. The light would go off and then I'd wait..

10 minutes later, "click"...WAHH WAHH WAHH WAHH

Same thing..light on, etc..etc.

20 minutes..."click"

This would go on for a good two hours if it was a slow night. What my goal was, was to get the guy to come out of his house and disable the car alarms manually. He'd come out all frustrated and open up the hoods on both cars and pull a wire.

This was especially fun when it was raining or snowing heavily.

Yeah, I know I'm a shit. But when you're young and stupid, things are funnier.

And when you were as stupid as I was back then, the world was a funnier place.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006


Standoffs. I hate them. Usually we're never allowed near enough to get any good video in he first place. Plus, nine times out of ten these things resolve themselves without bloodshed and the person willingly gives up or isn't in the house to begin with. This morning I found myself on just such a scene.

It's very muggy out and dark. The suburban Cul-de-sac is dimly lit by house lights. I'm standing in the middle of the street about 100 yards from the closest cop as I was asked to stay back. A man was barriaced inside his house after shooting his wife in the foot during an argument and the police are waiting on SWAT to show up. I can't see anything because the road curves off around to the left and the house is on the end of Cul-de-sac. I have to shoot on Hyper-gain to see anything.

I can see the stars when I look up. It's a beautiful sight with no street light glow to obscure the view. It's also very quiet. No real insect noises tonight. Just calm and still tonight. If it wasn't for the police at the end of the street, one would never know anything was going on.

Almost as if on cue in this serene moment, a doe walks out from behind the house I am in front of. She's looking around and then slowly walks across the yard and down into the street. She stops and looks at me. She's about ten feet from me and looking at me. I'm perfectly still because I know any movement will spook her. She looks around and then starts to slowly walk towards me. She gets within three feet and then stops. Her nose was twitching as I guess she was getting my scent. I could see her dark eyes and her ears were on alert. She stood there for about a good minute just looking a me. Then she turned and walked across the rest of the street and into the yard on the opposite of the street.

I've had my share of run-ins with wildlife. I hit a deer recently with my news unit, heading back to work, after covering a fire near my house. I also had a run in with a skunk at a decrepit cemetary casuing me to scream like a girl and punch a hole in the air, when it brushed against my ankles.

This time though, it was a nice encounter with nature. The doe put a smile on my face. It made for a good night.