I have been trying to figure out for two days what to write about this, not only because it was such a horrific crime, but because it happened so long ago. In 1994, when Leon Dorsey killed Blockbuster employees Brad Lindsey and James Armstrong, most of the people living here today probably weren’t. How do I help everyone understand how the crime affected us 14 years ago?
The thing I remember most is that the police investigation seemed to be going nowhere. Consider the crime: Two men, gunned down, in a video store that many of us went to regularly, for no apparent reason. That the murderer stole $392 didn’t seem like much of a motive. And the cops, apparently, couldn’t do anything about it. Talk about feeling powerless in your own neighborhood.
We talk a lot about crime here, but that’s a crime that scares even the most rational of us. And it did. A lot. Try to imagine what it would have been like later that spring and summer to walk through the Casa Linda parking lot, looking at the front of the Blockbuster, and knowing what had happened. And that the guy who did it was still out there.
That Dorsey was eventually caught and convicted was little consolation. It took four years, and it was almost an accident that the police got him. And only after he had killed at least one other person.
The other thing to know is that the early- and mid-1990s were not an easy time in this part of town. Crime was up, the economy was in recession, and we were still feeling the aftershocks of the savings and loan meltdown. This will be difficult for some of you to believe, but many people had written off this part of town. They were fleeing to the suburbs, and glad to be out of this hellhole. Urban living, teardowns and big time home prices were a decade away. In fact, home prices had fallen dramatically. And if there’s a reason why some of us smile when the subject of crime comes up these days, it’s because we remember what it was like 15 years ago. And as bad as it may be today, it’s not that.
The Blockbuster murders were proof to a lot of people that these neighborhoods weren’t safe and would never be safe again. Thankfully, they were wrong. But those of us who were here remember how right they thought they were.