January 27, 2022 Breaking News, Latest News, and Videos

Bullets on Main Street

By Steven Stajich

Steve Stajich, Columnist

It was dinner hour on August 4, a Friday summer night with plenty of tourists and others checking out Main Street in Santa Monica. Then, shots were fired. Police arrived to find a male victim bleeding on the sidewalk. Witnesses told police they saw the suspect walking east. When police encountered the man, near Hotchkiss Park the suspect fired, then the police fired, then the suspect went down taking a bullet. Another bullet went into a nearby building. The suspect survived and is in custody, on $2 million bail.

Not Compton, not East L.A., not Downtown L.A., not Watts, not Chicago, not Philly, not Milwaukee, not Minneapolis, not Baltimore… Main Street Santa Monica.

A distressed woman at the scene of the first shooting on Main Street may have had something to do with the gunplay; a man seen with the previous girlfriend of another man. If so then it might have been jealousy or anger, not drugs or gang violence or “territory” that sparked the shooting. The suspect was identified as “homeless.” But as part of the world he carried with him, he had a gun.

Former Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill is most closely associated with the phrase “All politics is local.” But if our beach-adjacent community has, in any way, been thinking it’s even a little bit immune to the gun epidemic and that, locally, it doesn’t have to be a concern… I think that changed last Friday evening.

And yet it’s hardly surrealistic knowing that peaceful Main Street with its quiet meld of shops and restaurants is not immune to gunplay. Like advertising copy for one of those boom box radio cassette players people took with them wherever they went back in 1980s, “guns go anywhere and everywhere.” They’re easy to carry and conceal, always at the ready to take a human life as they did last Friday evening on our own Main Street. Affordable? Easy to obtain? Again, the shooter was identified as “homeless.”

Far from telling you anything you don’t already know, I’m simply framing a nationwide crisis in the otherwise peaceful portrait of our own city. It might have been your family out for the evening on Main Street or even sitting on a blanket enjoying Hotchkiss Park, something my neighbors and their now 3 year-old son have done for years. Recognizing once more the professionalism and courage of our Santa Monica Police as they moved in on an armed suspect, I am still troubled by that stray bullet that went into a nearby building… a logical and predictable outcome of any exchange of gunfire anywhere at any time.

Architects and structural engineers will point out that earthquakes don’t kill people, buildings and collapsing structures kill people. And people are capable of killing other people without assistance from a gun. But unlike buildings and structures or a knife that was deployed in a Santa Monica attack just a few weeks ago, guns aren’t permeating American society because they’re mostly used for shelter or preparing food. People have them, people own them, and people buy them for the sole purpose of possessing an efficient piece of killing hardware. Yet something like the shooting on Main Street takes place, and I think we still maintain this otherness about guns. Especially any notions that it’s too late to do anything about them or that the problem is so big we can only sigh and hope none of our own loved ones will be touched by this plague.

This is where it would be great to be able to pitch some solutions. Mine are feeble, but maybe every single idea matters when it comes to the plague of guns on our streets. One, we could at least try to stop celebrating guns. In the Monday Los Angeles Times, the “Box Office” report showed a color photo of an actor in the number one movie in America firing two long-barreled pistols with his arms crossed, bullets flying in two directions. Television dramas too often resolve their drama with one actor aiming a gun at another actor with a gun. Do I even need to invoke video games at this point? I don’t know that you can accurately assert that bullets are flying in all directions on the streets of America, but you can certainly say that about the screens of America. The screens that we occasionally worry our children are spending too much time watching.

Two, we can support programs, like L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti’s Gun by Gun buyback, even if the numbers remain staggering. And they are: A buyback this May collected 772 guns while a 2012 Congressional Research Service report put the number of guns in America at 310 million. To which I would say that it only takes one gun to change a life and the lives of others. I’ll readily concede that every time I write on this subject, my tone feels tiresomely over-dramatic. But there was another epidemic in our country not that long ago that was also claiming lives, and voices kept up a drumbeat then because Ronald Reagan was sleep-walking and homophobic Americans wrongly assumed it only affected a certain segment of society. We’re wide awake now, and this epidemic has the potential to hit every single one of us.

Mugshot of Christopher Charles Davis
The suspect, Christopher Charles Davis, a 46 year-old male, is being held in custody on $2 million bail. Photo: SMPD
in Opinion
Related Posts

Santa Monica’s Future: Will Developers or Residents Rule? – Part 3 Our Boulevards

January 21, 2022

January 21, 2022

This is the 3rd of a 5 part article outlining serious issues that Santa Monica residents and the City Council...

Letter to the Editor: A Solution for Drivers and Mountain Lions Alike

January 21, 2022

January 21, 2022

The recent story, Local Mountain Lions Show First Reproductive Effects of Inbreeding, highlights a study that found mountain lions in...

Opinion: Housing Battle Heats up in Signature Season

January 21, 2022

January 21, 2022

By Tom Elias, Columnist Even before a proposed homeowner-inspired measure aiming to restore full zoning powers to local governments hit...

Santa Monica’s Future: Will Developers or Residents Rule? – Part 2 Our Downtown

January 14, 2022

January 14, 2022

This is the 2nd of five weekly articles looking at the history and current condition of Santa Monica’s beachfront environment...

Column: Let’s talk About the Soil

January 12, 2022

January 12, 2022

Everyone knows that we are undergoing a climate change not seen on the earth before. We all understand what is...

A New Years Glimpse Into Santa Monica’s Future: Will Developers or Residents Rule?

January 7, 2022

January 7, 2022

It’s a New Year, a make-or-break year for Santa Monica!! How much do you care about your city and it’s...

Opinion: Attorney General Spurs on Big 2022 Housing Battle

January 7, 2022

January 7, 2022

By Tom Elias, Columnist There will be plenty of political battles next year, starting with likely reelection challenges to Gov....

Should California Have a Formal Right to Shelter?

January 3, 2022

January 3, 2022

By Tom Elias, Columnist On a de facto basis, Californians have had a right to shelter for many years. But...

SM.a.r.t Wishes for 2022

January 3, 2022

January 3, 2022

We wish for: All California residents to gain back the control of their Cities from Sacramento’s draconian power grab by...

SMa.r.t. 2021 Christmas Card

December 22, 2021

December 22, 2021

Dear Readers, SM.a.r.t. (Santa Monica Architects for a Responsible Tomorrow) wish you all a joyous Holiday Season and a Wonderful...

Seismic Water Resiliency

December 16, 2021

December 16, 2021

This is the 2nd part of two-part article  (see smmirror.com/2021/12/sma-r-t-column-its-not-your-fault/ for the first part) Last week we wrote about the...

SMa.r.t. Column: It’s Not Your Fault

December 13, 2021

December 13, 2021

This is a two-part article Two large tectonic plates are engaged in a titanic multi-million year battle to slip past...

One of LA’s Best Omakase Counters is Tucked Away in a Santa Monica Hotel Lobby

December 8, 2021

December 8, 2021

Sushi Chef Masa Shimakawa’s Soko restaurant offers an extraordinary culinary experience By Sam Catanzaro Tucked into the lobby of a...

Building Conversion in Today’s Market Environment

December 3, 2021

December 3, 2021

Adaptive reuse, repurposing, and up-cycling of industrial and commercial buildings (“Conversion”) for greater in-demand uses are rapidly becoming the direction...

Opinion: Shore Hotel and Unite Here Local 11

December 3, 2021

December 3, 2021

By David G. Brown  While reading one of the mass text messages recently sent by Unite Here Local 11 in...