This is a continuation of How Patch Reporters Covered Cupertino’s Biggest News Day.
As Jennifer Van Der Kleut (known in Patchland as JVDK) put it:
“Oct. 5, 2011 - definitely not an average day in the life of a Patch journalist.”
Much like Pam Marino, JVDK was then a regular Patch contributor and guest editor. She now is the Local Editor of sister site Redwood City Patch. JVDK was called in to the mix at first not as a reporter, but as a mom. Schools throughout the immediate area were alerted that an armed man was on the loose, and JVDK got word of the scary news from her son’s preschool in Sunnyvale, which called to inform her school was canceled that day.
“I shook my head in disbelief, thinking it couldn't be true,” she says. “Then, I turned on the news and saw it was indeed no joke.”
The part that hit her hardest though was how close Allman could have been to coming into contact with her child.
“I later learned (Allman) had, for a while that morning, hidden out in the restrooms of the park behind my son's preschool where they often had recess and played Duck Duck Goose. The thought of what could have happened if I had dropped him off at school that day with the killer hiding out nearby, armed, was chilling,” says JVDK.
Manning the Site(s), Two Breaking Stories and Working Long Hours
Because I was at site of the search for Allman I couldn’t manage the incoming reports from other editors on the Cupertino Patch site. Priyanka Sharma-Sindhar, my editor and the Regional Editor over 12 Silicon Valley Patches stepped in to help. She pulled other Patch editors in to take different parts of the breaking story coordinating efforts. One person took social media and collected reactions, another followed other news reports to create summaries, and so on.
“It was probably the most intense day I had at Patch. The Shareef story was challenging because it kept moving. I forget if it was a news alert or (the call from Anne Ernst) but from that point on in the morning until around 11 at night, I don't think I took more than a 5-minute break.”
From Rachel Stern, our Associate Local Editor, who comes to our rescue time and again, had this to say:
“Oct. 5 was when ‘Murphy's Law’, i.e. when it rains it pours, came to Silicon Valley Patch. I remember using CoverItLive all day, making frantic updates from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. about the shooting: what happened, who died, who was injured, the SWAT team, rumors of his whereabouts, etc. Things simmered down at 5:30 p.m. and I thought, finally, I can go home now. I was about to walk through my door, and received a call from an editor that Steve Jobs died. After the initial shock, I worked until about midnight writing memorial coverage of him.”
Priyanka asked Mayra Flores de Marcotte, Campbell Patch editor, to cover a San Jose press conference that Allman’s family and friends were having. By the time Mayra got there the conference was over, but she stuck around and got some of them to speak to her.
“(I) was able to speak to his friends on camera about the type of man they knew him to be and their plea to him to surrender himself. It was emotional. It was raw and it was real.”
Pam had filed a report and went back to the main command center where she “milled around with other reporters, residents, cement plant workers, family members, trying to glean whatever info I could, along with photos and quotes. At some point I started calling info in to Priyanka and other Patch people who were updating stories on the other end.”
For most of us covering the event, we were doing our job “in the field” but for Pam, this was happening in her community, near her home.
“It was weird for me, because I grew up in these foothills, so to be faced with something so violent and brutal in my own backyard, in hills I once played in, was surreal. Layer on that the weirdness of seeing people I had been seeing in meeting after meeting, Lehigh officials, residents battling Lehigh, caught in this unusual situation.
“I wondered if any of the employees in the audience back in February at the county meeting were the shooter or the victims. I watched Henrik from a distance, and knew he had maybe seen the aftermath firsthand. It was a sobering thought. Plus, (Anne Ernst) and I had just been (at Lehigh) not that long ago, so I was trying to envision the layout of everything, and where stuff had happened.”
I stood in the middle of blocked off streets, wandered around, interviewed residents who were not allowed back to their homes until the search was called off, chatted with other reporters, and police who kept telling me where I couldn’t stand.
I’ve never been kicked out so many times in one day as I was on Oct. 5, 2011. At one point I was standing on the sidewalk next to the H-P parking lot where an employee there had been shot trying to get a photo of the car Allman tried to carjack. I thought I was being good; I respected the yellow crime tape and stayed clear of the driveway.
That wasn’t good enough apparently as a nearby officer told me to step back. I looked around and asked where could I stand. He pointed to a shadowed area, so I moved there. Less than a minute later another cop pulled up on a motorcycle and told me I couldn’t stand there. Hrumph.
“He just told me to stand here. Where can I stand then?” I asked as I shook my head and laughed. Yes, I moved.
That was pretty much the way things went the whole morning. I kept running back to my car to charge my iPhone because it was ill, very weak; as soon as I would unplug it the charge started ticking down. It could barely last two hours without use and went even faster with use.
I had been out wandering the Birdland neighborhood for a few hours, and was getting hungry and needed to use the bathroom. Every time I talked to Priyanka she told me to “just leave”, go find a bathroom. I couldn’t; I was certain that as soon as I walked away, something would happen and I didn’t want to chance missing it.
Pam and I were the ones out in the field so we tried to stay connected and keep one another informed of what we were hearing, seeing, learning.
At one point, Pam told me there was a “rumor” that Steve Jobs died. Though I am sensitive to the loss of a loved one, the thought of Steve Jobs dying on that day, that already very long and stressful day, well I’ll be frank, I can’t print the words that went through my mind, but the first word was, “Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo.”
Then again, at this point it was just a rumor and we weren’t able to confirm it.
Priyanka finally convinced me to take a break when she said JVDK was on her way to relieve me so I walked over to Starbucks at Cupertino Village and asked that JVDK meet me there so I could brief her on what was happening.
I had been away from my email for hours so I spent a little time just catching up. Then the confirmation of Jobs’ death came. After I picked my head up off the table and assured the young woman next to me who asked if I was OK, that yes indeed I was fine, I called my husband to tell him not to expect to see me for a very long time.
JVDK arrived and took over at the Sunnyvale site and I moved on to One Infinite Loop to await the mourners.
To be continued…