Almost Murdered

Thursday. Mid-December. I visited my usual birding area by the river, to hopefully find some fabulous photos to take. When I got there the fence gates were locked. And a helicopter was circling overhead. The city locks the gates when it rains as the river can be dangerous then. OK, no entry. However, one can climb the short steep outer river bank, bypass the fence and access the area. That's what I did. Wow. I was treated to a rare view. The river was roaring, engorged, its width doubled, its current racing. I looked around. There were some birds in the water. And a scruffy dirty beaded man standing on the river bank 100 yards downriver. I took a few photos of the birds. 

I was joined by another person who was out for a walk on the riverbank. He asked me why the helicopter was circling. I said I didn't know. He told me that he saw a bunch of police cars in the immediate area and that the circling helicopter was a police copter. We started walking, The scruffy dirty homeless guy started walking in our direction. We were then joined by a third person, a knowledgeable talkable guy who told us that there was a maniac on the loose in the area. He had spoken to the police and they told him a homeless man, armed with a rifle, was threatening to shoot "the people that live in the trees." Oh. A nutcase. An armed nutcase. The other two guys walked away. I decided to finish up my photography outing and leave the area. As I walked along the concrete embankment I looked back and saw the scruffy dirty bearded guy walking in my direction. I got a bad feeling and got off the riverbank. As I went down the short riverbank hill and onto a rustic dirt path I noticed a bunch of cops. They had guns in their hands and were urgently motioning for me to come their way. I joined the group of police and asked them what was going on. They told me that a guy was on the loose and threatening to kill people. People who lived in the trees. They said the guy was armed with a rifle. Now, that was something I had never heard of in this area. I had been coming to this scenic safe river birding area for years. Now there was an armed maniac, a potential mass murderer, on the loose here? The talkative guy was also there. He told me that he had seen the local news on the scene.

I watched as the police approached and stopped the scruffy dirty beaded homeless guy on the riverbank. The cops had their guns drawn. The cops handcuffed the guy. One of the police held up a rifle. Apparently an AK-47. OMG. The scruffy dirty beaded homeless guy was the maniac, desirous and capable of mass murder. And he had been behind me on the concrete riverbank, walking in my direction. Did I just escape being murdered? By a maniac nutso? An armed and dangerous scruffy, dirty, beaded homeless person? The talkative guy told me that he seen this homeless guy around but the maniac didn't live right there but did stay in the area. He didn't say if the maniac was actually homeless or not (but the alleged maniac sure looked homeless. And scruffy. And dirty).

I walked to my car and drove away, leaving all the danger and drama behind. I felt grateful. And lucky. Lucky I wasn't murdered. Lucky I was alive. And hungry. It was lunchtime. I went home and had lunch. After my near-death experience it was now just another Thursday in Los Angeles. Yeah, right.