September 14, 2013

Crime hits close to home again

So beautiful and peaceful out there...

The other night we were awakened about 2:30 a.m. by two very loud gunshots. It sounded as if it was right outside our fence but sounds carry weirdly out here where we live. Sometimes during the day, I hear voices that sound like they are in my back yard but it is actually workers at a construction site about a block away. Since the shots woke us up, we were groggy trying to figure out where it was and what we should do. But there was no question that it was a gun and a big one at that. This was no birthday party fireworks.

Right after that a flatbed truck went racing by our house. I stayed low but peeked through the window expecting to see TVs and computers or construction materials in the back of it but there was nothing there. Maybe a neighbor or the construction guard chased off the robbers with his gun? Our guard dog was going crazy, but she was running along the fence, barking the angry warning bark, not the 'imminent danger' bark that would indicate that someone was in or trying to get in the property.

Thoroughly frightened, we did what most good Hondurans do. We said a prayer for our own and our neighbors' safety, and went back to sleep. Surprised? For me it is like when I was a little girl and would hide under the covers, hoping the monster under the bed couldn't get me. If you pretend it isn't there, it isn't. It certainly wasn't the first and won't be the last time that we heard gunshots in the middle of the night. What could we do? Go out and get killed when we didn't even know what was going on and whether the truck was the bad guys or the good guys? We weren't even sure whose house was affected or whether it was one of the construction sites or whether it might even be narcos doing an execution (though they usually shoot seven times). It was definitely not a situation that we wanted to stumble into. Being a good Samaritan in a case like this would be foolish, if not deadly.

Then a few minutes after we went back to sleep, the truck came racing back and another shot was fired from a very big gun. WTH? Was someone chasing the robbers/murderers/whatever they might be? Please, God, let the dog scare them off if they are running and looking for a place to hide. Things quieted down after that and eventually we went to sleep again.


The following day, El Jefe was at the mall and a man said, "Aren't you my neighbor in the xxxx house...? I live in the xxxx house at the xxxxx." "Yes, that's me. Nice to meet you. How are you?" "Well, we got robbed last night." And for the next 45 minutes, the new neighbor told him all the details. J came home and told me and I'm having a hard time not thinking about it — a LOT.

He and his wife awoke hearing what sounded like someone in their house. When they cautiously opened the bedroom door, they were faced with five armed men. Even if he had had a gun, the neighbor said at best he might have been able to shoot two of them before the others shot him and his wife. The men gathered the couple and their three children, lined them up, made them lay face down on the floor. And then the robbers ominously covered them up with a blanket. You don't have to live in Honduras to know what they were thinking: "This is it. We are going to be murdered."

The robbers tore their house apart looking for and taking all valuables, TVs, computers, phones, just everything. They found a gun registration card and demanded, "Where is the Berretta?" The man had a hard time convincing them that he didn't have it anymore. They roughed him up, twisting his arm until they almost broke it. Finally he yelled, "Look at the card! See how old it is. I don't have it anymore!" and they left him alone.

At one point, the neighbor realized that all the home invaders were in other parts of the house and he ran out, ran toward our house and alongside the back of our fence (which backs up to a wooded area and creek). He was the one that our dog had been barking at! He immediately called his security company and they were the people in the truck that we saw. They were firing into the wooded area to flush out the thieves who by that time had left the house. The neighbor also called the police. I don't know how he was able to hide his cell phone from the robbers.

El Jefe said, "Why didn't you yell for help? I would have helped you! I would have let you in!" The neighbor said that he thought we were asleep and wouldn't hear him but that the robbers might. Also, not many Hondurans would open their door to a screaming stranger at 2:30 a.m. anyway. Lesson learned: Know your neighbors.

The neighbor says that they will never recover from that experience. They left their home and are staying with family elsewhere. He doesn't know if they will come back and that they would like to move to the US. Other neighbors have had similar or worse experiences (one was murdered by home invaders) and have moved away, but honestly, I don't know where you would go. Not in Honduras anyway.

Oh, by the way, in case you were wondering. The police. NEVER. came. period.

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