It was just an ordinary June Monday morning, cold and misty over the city.
I got on the tram at Flemington Road, but instead of turning into William, the tram sailed down Elizabeth. William Street was closed, the driver announced. A man was lying dead on the road, shot by a nutcase with a gun.
I got off the tram at Lonsdale, walked up the hill and along the Hardware Lane café precinct. The morning coffee peak was easing and the aroma of toast still hung in the air and the waiters were standing around with their napkins over their arms and the occasional cigarette. Helicopters buzzed overhead, but they always do that. No-one takes any notice. Then up Bourke and into my William Street office. It was quieter than usual for a Monday morning. No-one was going to break into a spontaneous powerpoint presentation.
I didn’t know the dead man, but he was a long-time friend of one of my Melbourne University running friends. They had known each other for years. They were both lawyers. They both played football for University Blacks.
There’s nothing like a tragedy to concentrate your thinking; and then you think, yeah, well that was obvious. We should have seen that coming. Then you think, well: what do we do about it now? And the answer is usually nothing because other things get in the way.
The shooter had been at an all-night bar. An all-night bar? What a good idea. All-night bars are there for people who wake up in the night, decide they have to have a martini right now and have to have someone make it for them and have to drink it in the company of like-minded people and have to drink it in the city. No, wait: that was just some fantasy suggested by the spin-happy legislators who deregulated the liquor industry under the guise of promoting a sophisticated Melbourne night scene.
You want sophistication? You won’t get it in an all-night bar. You’ll get drug dealers and drunkenness. You’ll get bad behaviour and petty crime. You’ll get smashed car windows in the back streets and vandalised shopfronts in the front ones. You’ll get noise and disturbance and the kind of behaviour people move to the other side of the city to get away from. That’s not sophistication. That’s trash.
So the shooter from the all-night bar has dragged a woman out of a taxi by the hair and she is screaming and it is 8.20 a.m. and a man goes to her aid and is shot dead.
This just to hand: the shooter was also wanted over an incident described by The Age's excellent John Silvester thus:
Hudson was believed to be driving a Mercedes-Benz that police tried to pull over about a week ago near the intersection of Somerton Road and the Hume Freeway, Campbellfield, about 3am. Police say someone fired shots indiscriminately from the window, forcing police to back off.
Can someone explain to me how someone can fire a gun indiscriminately near police and get away? And what does 'back off' mean? Let him get away?
He got away. There is soft law in this city.
And now, a week later, a man lay on a cold hard road on a cold hard Monday morning waiting for the coroner and the photographer and the ambulance, and after a while he was taken to a morgue where he lay on a cold hard slab on a cold hard Monday morning and that was the end of his life. He probably had a nice weekend.
The Age reports:
Mr Keilar, 43, leaves behind a wife, Alice, and three daughters — Claire, 8, Phoebe, 6, and Lucy, 4. He lived in Hawthorn East.
Claire. Phoebe. Lucy. What beautiful names.