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The Mira Mesa library security guard’s tale

“You are in the children’s area. I really can’t have that knife in here, sir. Please?”

Gregg Fajardo
Gregg Fajardo

Gregg Fajardo noticed the Bowie knife on the man’s hip as the man sat there in the Mira Mesa library. Fajardo is telling me this in Clayton’s Coffee Shop in Coronado. We both came in to grab an evening meal. There are about three of us scattered around the U-shaped counter. We get to chatting. When he tries to move, I can see he’s having difficulty.

“What happened?” I ask.

“Femur. Broke it.”

“How?”

“In a library. Mira Mesa. Kids’ section. Long story,” he says. “And nobody is really interested.”

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We go back to eating. “House of the Rising Sun” is playing on the jukebox, the one that you have to go up to if you want to hear something, even though Clayton’s has countertop mini jukeboxes.

Oh mother, tell your children. Not to do what I have done…

“So how did you break your femur?” I ask Gregg again.

The man with the knife, as photographed by security guard Gregg Fajardo

He puts his food down. “We just have the usual problems there in Mira Mesa. I’ve got nothing against the homeless. But at any library that’s close to a trolley or a bus stop, you have more of these problems. So every day — until this happened — I do my rounds. I go through the stacks. I come back around. And this time, as I come back around and make my way towards the garden, I stop in front of the librarian for the children’s area, the librarian’s desk. And that’s when I glance over and see the gentleman with the hat. He has a knife, a Jim Bowie kind of knife, hanging from his belt. So I immediately look, I click the picture [on the camera I always wear], just in case he gives me trouble, not realizing [there is a] second perpetrator. I have a list on my phone of what the rules are, because a lot of people get combative. So I walk up and say ‘Excuse me sir. How are you…?’ And that’s when I notice the guy to the left. He says something, but I’m focusing on the gentleman [with the knife]. I tell myself ‘Be calm, don’t let him know that I’m scared, or nervous.’ I look him in the eye and say ‘Excuse me sir. We don’t allow knives in here.’ I show him the phone with the rules.

“He says, ‘Well is it possible that I just put the knife in the backpack?’

“I’m like, ‘Yes sir, but when you do that, that becomes a concealed weapon. I can’t invite you to break the law. That would be breaking the law, sir. If you can just, please, take that, put it in your car. Please remove it. You are in the children’s area. I really can’t have that knife in here, sir. Please?’ And then he gets up without a problem, and he leaves. He walks towards the front door.

Still looking modern after 28 years.

“Now the other gentleman? Very combative: ‘WTF? This is a public place!’ I pull out the picture [of the rules] and show him, because I’m not trying to make it about me and him. I’m just letting him know that these are the rules of the City of San Diego. But he’s, ‘I can’t see the f-ing picture!’

“Me, I’m, ‘Sir, sir, you’ll have to calm down. If you like, we can go to the front desk.’ Because they have a copy that you can see there.

“Him: ‘I don’t need to f-n see that!’

“Me: ‘Sir, calm down!’

“Him: ‘I ain’t f’n yelling! You’re f’n yelling!’

“Now at this point, I start to back up. And I go, ‘Sir, you’re getting kind of carried away here. You’re in a children’s area, you can’t be cursing. Can’t you just leave?’ At this point, he doesn’t want to conform to anything I’m telling him. So as I try to pull back away from him, out of nowhere, he starts pushing me, and that’s when I lose my balance and I hit the back of the table, the concrete desk, where the children’s librarian sits. That’s when I hit my back. Some said I hit my head. That’s what I heard after, talking to the police. I only know I hit my back and that’s when I snapped the femur. And then I guess he jumps up, runs out, and then another guy steps up and says ‘This is my friend,’ and he protected me until the police came. And he said, ‘This is my buddy and I want that guy [arrested].’ And I knew my leg was broken because I tried to get up and go chase the guy who pushed me, but then I felt the most excruciating pain of my life. And I said to myself, ‘You ain’t going nowhere.’ And the librarian came up, and she said she’d seen the whole thing.”

This happened late August. Fajardo thanks goodness for Workman’s Comp, but it will likely be next March before he can get back on the job. If he still wants to. He has had plenty of time to reflect. “I had been worried about the situation, there at the Mira Mesa library. People acting strange, like one guy saying, ‘I’m going to kick your ass,’ when I asked him to leave. Lots saying things like, ‘Go back to Mexico!’ because of my Hispanic background. I discovered a lady actually living on the library roof. Another guy smashed a laptop and cell phone when he didn’t get his way. Others spending hours in the facilities. We’re allowed to knock on the door after 15 minutes, just in case someone’s having a heart attack or a seizure inside. Of course, as often as not, it’s someone smoking crystal. Meth heads. And they can get belligerent. Yet when I asked my company for [protection, like] mace, or tear gas or a stun gun, they laughed. But the most important thing for me is the kids. That’s my part of the library. The children’s library. I’m there to protect the children. The other day, I saw this five-year-old kid with his mom. He looked up at me and he was terrified. But I came down to his level and I said, ‘Don’t be frightened of me. I’m the good guy.’ And suddenly this kid goes from terrified to smiling from ear to ear. That kid: that’s why I decided to approach the guy with the Bowie knife.”

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Gregg Fajardo
Gregg Fajardo

Gregg Fajardo noticed the Bowie knife on the man’s hip as the man sat there in the Mira Mesa library. Fajardo is telling me this in Clayton’s Coffee Shop in Coronado. We both came in to grab an evening meal. There are about three of us scattered around the U-shaped counter. We get to chatting. When he tries to move, I can see he’s having difficulty.

“What happened?” I ask.

“Femur. Broke it.”

“How?”

“In a library. Mira Mesa. Kids’ section. Long story,” he says. “And nobody is really interested.”

Sponsored
Sponsored

We go back to eating. “House of the Rising Sun” is playing on the jukebox, the one that you have to go up to if you want to hear something, even though Clayton’s has countertop mini jukeboxes.

Oh mother, tell your children. Not to do what I have done…

“So how did you break your femur?” I ask Gregg again.

The man with the knife, as photographed by security guard Gregg Fajardo

He puts his food down. “We just have the usual problems there in Mira Mesa. I’ve got nothing against the homeless. But at any library that’s close to a trolley or a bus stop, you have more of these problems. So every day — until this happened — I do my rounds. I go through the stacks. I come back around. And this time, as I come back around and make my way towards the garden, I stop in front of the librarian for the children’s area, the librarian’s desk. And that’s when I glance over and see the gentleman with the hat. He has a knife, a Jim Bowie kind of knife, hanging from his belt. So I immediately look, I click the picture [on the camera I always wear], just in case he gives me trouble, not realizing [there is a] second perpetrator. I have a list on my phone of what the rules are, because a lot of people get combative. So I walk up and say ‘Excuse me sir. How are you…?’ And that’s when I notice the guy to the left. He says something, but I’m focusing on the gentleman [with the knife]. I tell myself ‘Be calm, don’t let him know that I’m scared, or nervous.’ I look him in the eye and say ‘Excuse me sir. We don’t allow knives in here.’ I show him the phone with the rules.

“He says, ‘Well is it possible that I just put the knife in the backpack?’

“I’m like, ‘Yes sir, but when you do that, that becomes a concealed weapon. I can’t invite you to break the law. That would be breaking the law, sir. If you can just, please, take that, put it in your car. Please remove it. You are in the children’s area. I really can’t have that knife in here, sir. Please?’ And then he gets up without a problem, and he leaves. He walks towards the front door.

Still looking modern after 28 years.

“Now the other gentleman? Very combative: ‘WTF? This is a public place!’ I pull out the picture [of the rules] and show him, because I’m not trying to make it about me and him. I’m just letting him know that these are the rules of the City of San Diego. But he’s, ‘I can’t see the f-ing picture!’

“Me, I’m, ‘Sir, sir, you’ll have to calm down. If you like, we can go to the front desk.’ Because they have a copy that you can see there.

“Him: ‘I don’t need to f-n see that!’

“Me: ‘Sir, calm down!’

“Him: ‘I ain’t f’n yelling! You’re f’n yelling!’

“Now at this point, I start to back up. And I go, ‘Sir, you’re getting kind of carried away here. You’re in a children’s area, you can’t be cursing. Can’t you just leave?’ At this point, he doesn’t want to conform to anything I’m telling him. So as I try to pull back away from him, out of nowhere, he starts pushing me, and that’s when I lose my balance and I hit the back of the table, the concrete desk, where the children’s librarian sits. That’s when I hit my back. Some said I hit my head. That’s what I heard after, talking to the police. I only know I hit my back and that’s when I snapped the femur. And then I guess he jumps up, runs out, and then another guy steps up and says ‘This is my friend,’ and he protected me until the police came. And he said, ‘This is my buddy and I want that guy [arrested].’ And I knew my leg was broken because I tried to get up and go chase the guy who pushed me, but then I felt the most excruciating pain of my life. And I said to myself, ‘You ain’t going nowhere.’ And the librarian came up, and she said she’d seen the whole thing.”

This happened late August. Fajardo thanks goodness for Workman’s Comp, but it will likely be next March before he can get back on the job. If he still wants to. He has had plenty of time to reflect. “I had been worried about the situation, there at the Mira Mesa library. People acting strange, like one guy saying, ‘I’m going to kick your ass,’ when I asked him to leave. Lots saying things like, ‘Go back to Mexico!’ because of my Hispanic background. I discovered a lady actually living on the library roof. Another guy smashed a laptop and cell phone when he didn’t get his way. Others spending hours in the facilities. We’re allowed to knock on the door after 15 minutes, just in case someone’s having a heart attack or a seizure inside. Of course, as often as not, it’s someone smoking crystal. Meth heads. And they can get belligerent. Yet when I asked my company for [protection, like] mace, or tear gas or a stun gun, they laughed. But the most important thing for me is the kids. That’s my part of the library. The children’s library. I’m there to protect the children. The other day, I saw this five-year-old kid with his mom. He looked up at me and he was terrified. But I came down to his level and I said, ‘Don’t be frightened of me. I’m the good guy.’ And suddenly this kid goes from terrified to smiling from ear to ear. That kid: that’s why I decided to approach the guy with the Bowie knife.”

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