About 20 minutes after Michael Yohannes was shot and killed on the corner of Second Avenue and Pike Street by what police say was an enraged acquaintance, Paul Hamilton was standing nearby looking more annoyed than shocked. Turns out that wasn't the first time Hamilton saw someone get killed downtown--it was the sixth.
His wife Tia chimed in to add or correct minor details.
The first death that Hamilton, a 40-year-old housing agent at Quick Switch Rentals, says he witnessed was actually three people in 1986. He was standing between Pike and Union Streets when a car suddenly came crashing out of an upper story of a parking garage, landing on another man below. The crash apparently killed the driver, who had suffered from a heart attack shortly before, causing him to accelerate out of the building. It also killed his wife who was riding shotgun and the man on the street who the car landed on.
"All of a sudden this car comes though the wall," he says casually over the phone today. "It decapitated the man it landed on. It was the first time I'd ever seen a head roll down the street."
The next one, he says, was in 1999 and he and his wife were at Westlake Center when they saw two men arguing before one pulled out a gun and shot the other several times.
"It just dropped him to the ground, dead," he says.
The fifth incident occurred, he says, just two years ago while he was waiting for a bus to take him home. He says that all of a sudden a man pushed a woman in front of a bus, killing her instantly.
"There was a big commotion and you could her the woman's head get crushed," he says. "It was terrible."
After the latest death he witnessed on Tuesday, Hamilton says it's starting to "get annoying."
"I had never really thought about it before, but after this last time, the bodies started piling up in my head," he says. "This last time, me and my wife just looked at each other, 'cause we were supposed to be getting some dinner, and said 'where are we gonna eat now?' We had to settle for Subway."