Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Looking for "Good"

Sometimes when you work a lot of long nights, where news can be kinda grim, you try to remember some of the good people you've met. I know, as a reporter you bristle at the naivete of calling people "good" (no simple stories -- there's always something, right?), but...

This couple were definitely two of the best, to me. Call me a sucker, but hey, if you can't have faith in a pair like that, you're a more hardened soul than I am. In the city, I've rarely seen such selflessness.

Been wondering lately what they're up to -- whether they ever got the church going again.  Time to reach out and find them.

An Unhappy Ending

Welp, everybody said it would happen. James Fields, the East Side gang leader I profiled here, has been arrested and convicted of shooting a gun at someone after a heated argument outside a bar. A guy who testified against his brother during a murder trial. Even my editors joked about how shocked they were.

Everybody wants a simple story. Let's face it: it's easy not to have any faith in folks like James, or to see him as a "good" or "bad" guy. There's people who say - casually, and let's face it, maliciously - that a wall should be built around Detroit. These people make my blood boil.

NObody ever said they were sure James would make it. He was always "the enforcer" of the gang. Many will claim he never got out. I personally think he did, for a bit. But it's a hard life to leave.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Quintessential Confidence Man

I don't think I've ever gotten more phone calls -- not for murders or rapes or, well, anything -- than I did about this guy: by all reports the quintessential con man. It started with a simple theft by swindle of the St. Paul Hotel, a couple thousand dollars. In the following weeks, I made contact with two ex-girlfriends who said he'd taken them for tens of thousands.

At first it was hard to believe -- but after some follow-up, the stories were all the same. In time, five ex-girlfriends, none of whom knew each other, all said the exact same thing:

1.) He met them online, posing as a millionaire.

2.) Took them out house hunting, going so far as to put in purchase agreements, for million-dollar homes.

3.) Would show documents and screen-shots proving his riches/debts paid.

4.) After weeks, months, and in one case years, it became evident he never had any money, and had sucked their funds away. The purchase agreements were never followed up on. Any access he had to his girlfriends' finances was exploited.

He was released by the judge, and never showed up for sentencing. But I have a feeling he'll turn up someday.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The Kinda Folks You Meet: Part 3

It took three months to get James Fields to talk to me, and I don't think he ever called or returned a call.  I didn't take it personally, though, and the amount he opened up in the end was surprising, given his history.

James founded The East Side Boys, one of the city's two largest street gangs.  I have a hard time trusting anyone, but James has a certain candor to him.  Maybe I do trust him a little, though I got plenty of calls telling me I shouldn't.  You be the judge (I had to re-upload the video on Youtube):

You can read the whole profile here.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Kinda Folks You Meet: Part 2

Here's another night shift lover: one of the spunkiest cabbies you'll ever meet. I'll probably do a video a month with Chey; she's a blast. As she notes, only 1 in 400 cabbies is female, but she handles the screwball drunks pretty well.

The Kinda Folks You Meet

Been doing a few ridealongs with people that actually like the night shift, and worked up a few videos. Here are a few: two paramedics that much prefer the traffic-free streets and crazy calls of the after hours.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Somewhere to go

So we're not supposed to know anything about juveniles in the justice system: their cases are off-limits to info requests, you don't see their names in criminal complaints, and nobody is authorized to say squat about them.

But occasionally you hear things. Because they seem to be the cases that affect cops the most. 

Take tonight for example: an 11-year-old kid who broke a window and pulled a knife in a foster home, and the others won't take him because he's already been through all of them. He's yelling, "I just wanta go somewhere where they love me!" Yeah, those things get to people.

He's probably going to stay in juvie tonight. Even with all the new rules emptying out the juvenile detention centers, even if he tests out on the intake -- which he normally would -- they're probably going to have to take him anyway. No place to put him. Amazingly enough, a cop or two actually wants to take him home too.