Alfredo Hernandez lost his cool yesterday morning and brought 13 police cars, four police motorcycies, and three police vans to the 2100 block of O Street NW. The officers climbed out onto the sunshine and took up helmets and rifles and battering rams. "Clear the area," a policeman said.
Hernandez was behind in his rent again. He didn't pay for March, and now April was overdue and the marshals had gotten him out of bed that morning with an eviction order. They stood out in front of his fourth-floor apartment at 2148 O St. NW, the Sharon Apartments, and said that Hernandez and the woman who says she is his wife and their two children would have to get out.
Hernandez, who says she was released from the hospital six weeks ago after a fight and is currently unemployed, addressed the marshals from behind his apartment door.The police report was uncertain about his particular choice of words. "Subject locked himself in and stated that he had a gun," said the police report.
The officers stood down in the street in their helmets, radios to their ears, waiting. "Whatever happened to the days of Matt Dillion," muttered a policeman. D.C. Police Chief Maurice Cullinane arrived and holed up in The August, the red brick apartment building across the street.
A man wearing a suit the color of fresh limes came by and looked around at all the police. "He have did it a couple of times before," the man said, speaking of Hernandez. "But it wasn't all this." He smiled, almost admiringly. His hat had a small gold revolver on the brim. "When it come time for him to move, he just don't want to go anywhere."
"When he loves he's going to have a hard time getting a reference," someone said. The man in green scowled."He just want to be known," he said.
The tenants had been cleared out by the police, and some of them hung around outside, waving at the television cameras. The Sharon runs into this sort of thing now and again, they said. It is a hulking, yellow brick building where one-bedroom units cost $175 per month, no lease. A month ago a man set fire to his mattress on the third floor and was taken away and charged with arson.
A woman on the second floor had a pet chicken until she got a puppy from the great dane down the hall to keep her chicken company. She left the two of them alone in the bathroom all day to make friends. The chicken expired shortly thereafter.
The Hernandezes got to quarreling last Christmas, and Kathleen Hernandez chucked the turkey out the window. A tenant on the second floor watched it sail by, in its roasting pan.
"Freddy's a good guy," said a young neighbor of Hernandez. From the building across the street came a police voice, booming: "Open the door and come on out with your hands up."
There was a moment's silence. It was very hot on O Street. The door to the Sharon opened and the marshals came out, looking cheerful. They spoke to the police and the police said Hernandez had been given until Friday to find another place to live. The radios crackled: "The situation at 21st and O Streets is now under control."
Alfredo and Kathleen Hernandez stepped out when the squad cars had pulled away. They pushed two small children in a stroller, and when reporters ran after them, they spoke angrily at the same time, waving their hands.
"I'm not going to have my kids on the street," he said. "I have to pack and organize," she said.
They said he had lost his job and the new one he lined up had been taken away when he got into a fight with the building janitor. They said she was going to get money from her parents in New Orleans but then her grandfather died and she didn't feel right asking for money at his funeral, and then her parents went to Europe for their 30th wedding anniversary, but they were coming back on Friday, just at the end of this week.
Hernandez, 29, said he never had a gun. "Somehow the thing got mixed up where they must have thought I had a pistol," he said.
Kathleen Hernandez, who is 23, and came to Washington when she was 17, said she thought the landlord had it in for them, sending the marshals after just five weeks. "What's a few days for some chump change anyway," she said.