Liz Swain 4:24 p.m., May 24
"She was helping the police," a neighbor said, sadly. He was referring to Jennifer Favreau, the 31-year-old informant who was shot and killed by Escondido police on Thursday. The young man, who lives in the Pepperwood Meadows apartment complex, said he heard shots fired and the sound of cars crashing. He watched as paramedics struggled to bring the girl back to life, but failed. According to him, the girl had two bullet wounds in her abdomen.
A lady in her early 40s, came out of her apartment and stood next to me. As we chatted, newsman Artie Ojeda rushed passed us, spewing details of the cordoned scene into his cell phone. A heavy-set reporter from The Union Tribune lit up a cigarette and sighed. He said that Ojeda was supposed to hold a press conference so that he could get the story. It wasn't happening fast enough. The back of his shirt was damp with perspiration.
"The waiting is a bitch," I said. He laughed. At least I've still got a job," he said. "I wasn't one of the guys who got laid off." He stepped forward to ask a rather delicate female officer if he could speak to the Lieutenant. A man in uniform, with the hard-ass look of a prison inmate, showed up. After the reporter said something I couldn't hear, the officer, to paraphrase, told him to kiss off, then left.
The lady next to me mentioned that she had just moved in four months ago. This was the second time the police had been there. I told her that I once lived in an apartment a block away. "Something was always happening with the cops," I said. She didn't look enthused.
I played with a very friendly fellow named, "Bubba." He was a beautiful, silver-colored pit bull, full of playful energy and only 9-months old. I told the owner that a pit bull is a good thing to have in that neighborhood. She smiled. I then moved closer to the apartment nearest the scene. Several guys with knit caps and an abundance of tattoos, avoided making eye contact with me. I stood among them, hoping to get some news.
A young woman came out of the apartment, holding a baby about 6-months old. In a staggering flashback, I was not a 50-year-old amateur newshound, but a fearful, young mother, living in 2050-B at The Grand Regency Apartments, circa 1991. Undercover officers, parked out in front, would wave to me as I'd leave for work in the morning. I didn't know they were officers; I thought they were just friendly guys, until our apartment was raided. They hauled Chuck, my husband at the time, off to jail. One officer referred to him as "the most notorious drug criminal in San Diego."
The sun was fading and I was getting bored. A tall blonde with a solemn face came out of the apartment. She told one of the guys that she was "getting out of here." The young man I had talked to earlier, followed. I asked him if the crash could be seen from a window. "Yes," he said. I asked if I could go in to take a picture. "I don't live here," he said, with a slight smile. "If I give you five bucks, will you take a picture?" He and a teenager next to him nosedived for my camera. Soon I had two pictures that no one else had, although they were a bit hazy from being shot through window glass.
A young fellow with a shaggy pony tail then offered to lead me to the back of the complex, for a better view. When we got there, I saw that a gray car had been backed into the side of a white sedan. The sedan sat nose-to-nose with a police cruiser. The sedan's bumper was crumpled, while the police cruiser remained intact. It was easy to see who had gotten the raw end of that deal.
I later read online that Jennifer, the shooting victim, was a police informant. She had told them that her boyfriend had a stolen car. In an effort to help them catch the boyfriend, she then got into the sedan with him. When the boyfriend saw the cruiser, he tried to make a run for it by ramming it head-on. A nearby undercover officer backed his car into the sedan. Jennifer then got out and was shot. I pitied the poor girl who trusted cops not to screw things up.
A few feet away, a silver SUV sat askew. "That was involved too, " my pithy tour guide said. "See the white marker? Police put it there." A small, A-frame card sat next to a front tire. He then said that the many wet spots on the asphalt were actually pools of blood. As the mother of a 31-year-old child, I had seen enough. I thanked my friend profusely, and made a comment that I wished I had a camera with a decent zoom lens. "Get a Dixon," he said. "That's what the sports photographers use." I told him I'd remember that and left.