First Anniversary of the Michael Lembhard Shooting. Newburgh, NY (March 7th. – 8th., 2012.)

Cherry Lembhard (27) views the blood stained floor where the fatal shooting of her brother took place inside 55 Liberty Street in Newburgh, NY on Thursday, March 8, 2012. Michael Lembhard (22) was shot and killed in a police involved shooting in the apartment late Wednesday night.  © CHET GORDON/Times Herald-Record

Today, March 8th., is the first anniversary of the fatal shooting by police of 22 year-old Michael Lembhard in Newburgh, NY last year. It was a story that got me out of bed the night of the shooting just before midnight, and together with our street hardened reporter, we worked the scene outside the apartment and at a nearby hospital until almost 3AM. After editing and moving my photos and his story to the paper’s website, we returned to the house within a few hours, with literally no sleep. When the NY State Police Crime Scene Investigators took down their crime scene tape, the family allowed members of the media into their living room where the shooting took place only hours before. Now I’ve covered a lot of death in my career both on the streets, roadways, at fires, domestics, funerals and the like. Even at earthquakes and other natural disasters, but this whole scene that one morning and into the afternoon on March 8th. was as one of the most eerily strange scenes I’ve ever witnessed. Literally being led into the cramped living room with other TV cameramen, reporters, family members and even a city councilman is something I’ll probably never forget. Working to photograph blood stains and bullet holes in the floorboards, walls and furniture, all the while trying to sidestep the blood stains got to be a bit much. A family member also passed around a cell phone with a photo of Michael on it, so we all had to be courteous and try to copy the image, while standing in the confining room where he’d been shot dead. I remember telling a NYC cameraman, “I think I’ve got enough. I think we all do…” We must’ve been in the room all of ten minutes, but it seemed like an hour and a half. When I left and returned home to edit the morning’s take and get those images sent to the paper, I decided to go back to the scene, where I figured I’d now be the only member of the media. Things were still hectic and of course emotional, as people wanted to see the scene. I stood in the doorway and told the brothers and sister Cherry (above) that I just wanted to watch. I made it point to only work with one camera body with a medium zoom, and no flash. No bag. Just wanted to lay back and observe the scene. I’d become a familiar face with the family members by then and had their permission to wait there in the doorway. Watching the victim’s siblings view a running newscast of the morning’s events outside the apartment was another one of those moments you just can’t describe…  ~cg.

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