A Rude Awakening

Several weeks ago, I woke up to the sound of gunshots outside my bedroom window.  I jumped out of bed and peered out the window to see what was going on.  Police vehicles surrounded the house next door, including one of those black SWAT vans, and police in body armor prowled the yard, converging on the home with their guns raised.  Now, the house next door had actually been vacant for a few weeks, so my first thought was that someone had set up a meth lab inside or something.  But no police officer had knocked on our door that morning.  Surely if we were in danger the police would have informed us.  I called the police department.

A woman answered the phone.  “How may I help you?” she asked in a very flat tone.

“Yes,” I said, “I was wondering if you could tell me why there are a bunch of police cars surrounding the house next door?”

Same flat tone.  “Where do you live?”

That question caught me off guard because it kind of implied that a) the reason for the presence of armed police officers in riot gear depended on my location, but more importantly, b) there were MULTIPLE possible answers.  Meaning there were police officers in riot gear elsewhere in my relatively small city?

“Uh…” I said.

“Sir, what is your address?”

I gave her my address.

“Hold, please.”

And then I was listening to the police department information line, which provided all kinds of useful tidbits like, “If this is an emergency, please do not wait on the line.  Hang up and dial 9-1-1.”  So I started to wonder, is this an emergency?  Should I wait on the line or hang up and dial 9-1-1?  And then I started to wonder why it was taking her so long.  Then she was back.



“It’s a training exercise.”  Still the same flat tone.

In fact, I think she would have sounded exactly the same if she had instead told me that police had tracked the most dangerous serial killer in the world to the house right next door to mine.

“A training exercise?” I asked.

“Yes, sir.”


“Can I help you with anything else?”



No goodbye.  No have a nice day.  Just, click.

So the events next door went from scary to entertaining.  I got ready for work, and listened to the breaking glass, the mini explosions, the banging, the shouting, and watched the officers race about from my window.  When it was all over, I went and took some pictures of the aftermath.

garage door
The garage door after they cut through it.

wall hole
A hole they punched through the wall into the house.

busted window
A busted out window. There was glass everywhere.

front of house
The front of the house, with every window broken out and boarded over.

swat ceiling
The inside of the house, with the ceiling left undisturbed. I love the use of SWAT as a verb.

6 responses to “A Rude Awakening”

  1. I guess we should be relieved that the SWAT team in our town is on the ball and ready to roll.

    So the morning this happened to us, it was not a training exercise. I walked out one fine summer morning pick ripe raspberries. I was met by a fully clad SWAT guy with a rifle the length of a flag pole, lying prone on the upper level of our back yard. His rifle was trained on the house across the street. He calmly told me that me and my little dog should go back inside ma’am. From the upstairs window we could see swarms, of swarming heavily armored men infiltrating the neighborhood.

    The moral of the story for the neighbor that was being surrounded was that firearms and alcohol do not mix.

    After reading your post I think I might make sure I have spray paint on hand to designate the non-swattable areas.

  2. I’m thinking part of the training exercise should include warning the neighbors so they or their kids/dogs/etc. don’t get shot. I like SWAT as a verb. I’m going to try to work that into my vocabulary.

  3. DaNae – Or better yet, just put a sign up in your yard that reads, “Don’t SWAT house.”

    Elena – They did have a very small sign up, about a foot or two across, but it was positioned for passing vehicles to see, not for us neighbors. Some of us talked and laughed about it later, and we found out the more than one of us had called the police department to find out what was going on next door.

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