On a night two Fridays back, Robin Rawal and her family were sleeping when out of nowhere a gun fired, she says, and a bullet shattered her son's bedroom window and lodged into the wall.
Just one shot was fired, but when Rawal ran to the front of the house to see what happened, her son was crouching and told her to get down in case more shots were to follow.
If her son had been standing instead of lying in bed, the bullet could have hit him in the chest or in his head.
Two weeks after, Rawal is in an interesting position: She is upset that the did, in her opinion, very little to try to find the shooter right after the crime happened. However, she now believes she knows who fired the gun, and she does not want to turn him in because she believes it was an accident.
She felt differently the night of the shooting and in the days before she found out who fired the shot, but at that point she was waiting for the Sheriff's Department to come back and start asking around the neighborhood for information. But they didn't, she says.
"That's not a good feeling, when they left here without asking around more, when if my kid would have been standing he would be dead," Rawal said.
What feels even worse to Rawal is that she believes the department is not concerned about the shooting because of where she lives, west of Lincoln Avenue on Figueroa Street.
"If I were in a more affluent area of town they would have taken it seriously," Rawal said. "It it were on the other side of Lake, it wouldn't have happened this way."
Living in West Altadena
Rawal has lived in West Altadena neighborhoods for significant parts of her life: She was raised nearby where she currently lives and has been in the area for a while.
She readily admits that there are crime and gang issues in the area: She lives three doors down from a liquor store on Lincoln and knows that people hanging out in the area are sometimes up to no good.
But Rawal also says she has some great neighbors, friendly people who work hard and are kind.
Her son, Ricky--who was sleeping in the room where the bullet shattered the window--attends Pasadena City College and works at Trader Joe's. He is working on transferring to a Cal State school.
Because the area she lives in does have a repuation for crime, and arrests do happen there, she feels that department deputies came in with an assumption that the shooting was simply gang-related, or that perhaps even that someone in her home did something that caused the shooting to happen.
Knocking on Doors
The night of the shooting, Rawal felt that deputies did very little to try to find the shooter. She said that about five cars showed up, and the deputies mostly stood around in the street shining their flashlights and talking to each other. She said she and her sons were interviewed and a deputies spoke with a few neighbors standing around nearby the crime scene, but that was it.
Unsatisfied with the response, Rawal's stepson, Andre, did some investigating on his own: He knocked on doors up and down the street and asked neighbors if they knew what happened.
What they found out was that some people had heard a 16-year-old boy in the neighborhood had accidentally fired a shot from his gun while he was playing around with it while walking past their home.
Her son Andre confronted the teen, who admitted to Andre that he had been the one who did it, according to Rawal.
When asked about the shooting, Lt. Michael White of the Altadena Sheriff's Station told Altadena Patch that detectives believe it was a gang-related shooting, on the basis that the neighborhood has known gang members living and spending time in it.
He said that deputies at the scene interviewed four family members in Rawal's home, as well as two witnesses at the scene, and had no suspect information or other leads to work with.
There is no standard procedure for how to follow up on these kinds of cases, White said. Rather, the department will decide on a case by case basis whether to send out detectives to do more follow-up work after a shooting.
When Patch spoke with Rawal on May 16, nobody had followed up on her case since the shooting happened. On the afternoon of May 17, within two hours after Patch contacted Lt. White, two detectives showed up at Rawal's door.
The two officers who came by identified themselves as gang detectives, Rawal said. She told them she believed she knew who did it, but that she did not know his name (which is true). She told them the same thing she told Patch: She does not want to see the kid arrested.
"Do I Want to be the Reason He Goes to Jail?"
In the days immediately following the shooting, Rawal had no doubt she wanted to see the person responsible for shooting up her house arrested. She was angry and frustrated that nothing was being done.
Upon learning that the person responsible was a 16-year-old who did it accidentally, she now feels differently.
She believes the teen has a drug problem and is in danger of getting into serious trouble with the law down the road.
But Rawal also believes that if he is arrested now, there is no hope for his future.
"If I disclose who this is, I ruin his opportunity to have a good future," Rawal said. "Do I want to be the reason why he goes to jail? No."
She said that in the first days after the accident she would have felt differently. If detectives had found the teen the same night, or in the days after, she would have wanted him to be arrested, she said.
She said her step-son "had a few words" with the kid and hopes that will wake him up and get him to straighten his life out. At the same time, she said, as far as she knows he still could have the gun that he accidentally fired off two weeks ago.
Getting Past the Shooting
Rawal's son no longer sleeps in the front room of the house. The bullet hole was still in the window when Rawal spoke with Altadena Patch, along with a hole in the wall. The bullet is still somewhere in the wall, she said.
In the last week, Ricky took on a dog-sitting job, and he now sleeps with the animal, she said. It helps him rest easier.
Rawal believes he is still traumatized from the shooting: She says he seems a bit more nervous and is spending more time away from home. She describes him as "not quite comfortable."
As for Rawal, she is still frustrated about the department's response. The bullet hole in the wall is a constant reminder of what happened, and she wishes the department had come to collect the bullet for evidence.
Rawal initially contacted Patch after she read about her case in the department's . The blotter item ended with "no further information at this time."
By the time she read it she already knew about the teenager she believes did the shooting and it was a bitter reminder that nobody at the department had followed up the way her step-son did: knocking on doors and asking neighbors what they knew.
Rawal knows many neighbors who are reluctant to talk to police and she knows many who feel they are not treated with respect. That's unfortunate, Rawal says, but to her it's understandable. She feels the department was not concerned about her kid's safety.
"It's disheartening to feel this way," Rawal said. "I think it's part of why people end up having diminished respect for the police."