Here’s some actual follow-up reporting. about the aftermath of a shooting I witnessed last week in Atlanta’s West Midtown neighborhood. It’s not exactly in-depth, but one of the fun features of life in Atlanta is that it’s a pleasant surprise when local corporate media perform even their most basic responsibilities.
11Alive tracked police report trends in West Midtown over the past five years and found a changing criminal landscape. Starting in 2009, total crime began dropping. Then in 2014, it almost restored to ’09 levels.
It’s not that simple.
A closer look reveals the specific crimes have changed.
Violent crimes, mostly robberies, are down 17%. Non-Violent crimes trended flat, just 3% lower than five years ago.
However of those non-violent crimes burglaries have been cut in half, and car break now make up about two thirds of the total crime here.
Those nuisance crimes do make an impact here.
Here’s an at least cursory look at crime statistics: overall crime dips and rises back most of the way, but violent crime is rarer and car break-ins much more common. So two shot guys in a car was a bad throwback for that particular intersection.
As far as fiction is concerned, one way to work it would be to go straight ahead, have two yuppiehipsters walking out of Octane Coffee, and bam! the shooting starts right in front of them. Make the first two pages their argument about something banal, but make them vivid characters, so the reader is invested in their argument before getting smacked by the shootout, which needs to happen right there instead of a mile away as it did in real life. Once D/M get the case, it becomes a bit of a Rashomon thing, with the couple not coming forward right away but their perspective turning out to be the key clue.
Or take it a different way: the major crime in that neighborhood is car break-ins. So they’re routine: just an oh, great! followed by some phone calls. You live there, you know it’s not worth it to lock your car or leave anything of value in it. But first-time visitors to an intersection that gentrified might not think to do this. Now imagine they left something real important in the car, come out to get it, but their window has been freshly broken. So they track down and assault the guy who did the break-ins. We don’t even need two shot guys in an SUV.