Feature writer pitches in periodically.

The call came early in the morning. The city editor said the crime reporter had called in sick, and they needed someone to cover the police beat.

“But I’m the features writer,” I said. “Crime reporting requires complete sentences, with verbs and commas. I deal in short, punchy phrases. I’m not sure I can do it.”

The editor cracked a silent smile. At least, that’s what I’m making up.

“You can handle it,” he said. “I like your style.”

Would I still be able to use lots of short paragraphs?

“Go for it, kid,” he answered. “And be sure to bring your bag of periods.”

Carolina Avenue is just two blocks from Arlington Avenue in the city’s South Central neighborhood.

Two streets where the best and the worst happened within three weeks of each other — and involved the same man.

Carolina Avenue is a street with a burned-out house on it. Arlington Avenue is where two police officers were wounded while serving a search warrant. Trying to keep crack cocaine out of the hands of children.

Police say the same man who shot the officers had told them 20 days earlier that he tried to get into a burning house to save a stranger.

Thirty-one-year-old Tymon Wells.

“The same guy,” said Lt. Brad Redfern, of the city police department.

In other news, a man trying to sell watches outside a liquor store told police he was robbed Tuesday.

The suspect snatched two silver watches from the vendor’s hands. Threatened to shoot him. In the face. With a gun. A gun that had bullets in it.

The victim described the suspect as light-skinned. Black. Male. Between 20 and 30 years old. Wearing a white coat and a white hat.

White hat, maybe. But definitely not one of the good guys.

Meanwhile, a York woman was arrested on assault charges after police says she threatened her daughter with a knife.

That’s right: her daughter with a knife.

Ebbie Hines, known fondly by her neighbors on Turkey Creek Road as “that crazy old bat,” told police she only grabbed the knife because her daughter grabbed another knife first.

“She was a kind woman, always letting others go first,” said somebody or other.

Hines said that earlier in the day, the daughter threw a salt shaker at her, striking her in the chest. It left a bruise.

On her chest, and in her heart.

Hines was arrested and charged with aggravated assault with intent to kill.

In Rock Hill, it was 2 a.m. Saturday. A time when most people are asleep. Unless they decided to stay up late.

No work on Sunday, you know.

But somebody was working late at the Sportsman, a hunting and fishing equipment store. They drove their GMC Yukon through the front door in an apparent robbery attempt.

The crash caused $15,000 in damage to the store. Enough to buy a toy for a thousand poor kids in Haiti. Or make 500 care packages for troops in Afghanistan. Or buy a golf cart for a mentally challenged teen.

Instead, a store has a destroyed foyer.

Officers followed footprints in the snow, but at the time of the report it was not known who was involved in the break-in attempt.

Hopefully, it wasn’t Santa Claus. Or Rudolph, that famous reindeer with the nose of red. Probably not, since Christmas was two months ago.

Finally, the back door of a Chinese restaurant was pried open during a burglary in which thieves stole $1,500.

That’s a lot of hot-and-sour soup with extra tofu.

Police said an unknown person or persons cut the phone line and ripped out the alarm system. The thieves first searched the front desk area, then entered a storage area.

A safety deposit box was stolen during the incident.

Not so safe after all, huh?

End of story.

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