Shadetree Garage Murder

Just a snippet of a story, but one of those that opens up all kinds of things from a fiction perspective:

A DeKalb County man who refurbished and sold cars out of his Columbia Drive home, was shot and killed Sunday afternoon.

DeKalb County police spokesman D.C. Hamilton said officers responded to emergency calls of gunshots at around 12:30 p.m. He said the victim, who was not identified, was alive when paramedics arrived, but died at the hospital.

“Nobody is in custody and nobody has been arrested yet,” Hamilton said. “We are still sorting things out.”

Throughout the rainy afternoon, as police combed through evidence in the man’s yard, neighbors gathered across the street.

They said the man was well known in the neighborhood, mainly because he had a yard full of cars that he sold. Nearly a dozen cars were currently in the yard.

“He was a nice guy,” said Daisy Glover, who has lived in the area for 19 years. “I don’t know why anyone would want to shoot him.”

Right off the bat, I can think of an awesome plot. This poor nameless man will have an analogue in my story. Sure, he’ll fix your car, but where he really cashes in is customization: he has a knack for adding secret compartments to cars, so that drugs or cash can be transported, and he does it in such a way that cops never think to look in these places. So he’s incredibly valuable, and dangerous, to local gang types.

Act One is where the cops try to figure out who might have killed him. Like Ms. Glover said, he’s a nice guy, and nobody can think of a reason anyone would want to shoot him. There’s a girlfriend or a landlord or something, but it doesn’t seem like much.

Then, they stumble upon one of the secret compartments: one of the dudes at Car CSI figures it out. Holy cow, these are tricky. Off the cops go tracing who brought in a car and got it customized in this way. On the way, they discover both a) a plausible dissatisfied customer who’s a big gang lord they’ve had their eye on for years, and b) a completely unrelated murder that these compartments end up solving—they trace a gun found in another car’s compartment and it leads them to the killer.

Act Three, they think they have the gang lord in their sights, but look, man, he didn’t do it: the garage guy was valuable to him, and a nice guy that nobody would want to shoot. They *almost* get the gang lord, and they do manage to nail one of his top lieutenants. But even when offered a lesser sentence, the leader is like “I really didn’t do it.”

Only as she’s leaving the state do they track down the ex-girlfriend, who had no bloody idea about the customization but was mad as a hornet at him because he spent too much time fixing cars and not enough paying attention to her. Fiction is so much fun.

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