Shots echoed off the concrete walls surrounding the gas station. People scrambled for cover—scrawny teenagers pulling older men alongside them—their heads ducked low, their eyes frantic.
Were they fireworks, or gunshots?
Either would be bad in a gas station, but only one caused people to run like that.
Several cars peeled out of the parking lot, desperate to get away. People cowered behind anything solid they could find—parked cars, electrical transformers, gas pumps. The gas pumps didn't seem like such a good idea.
And the shots continued.
Barely a heartbeat passed before three police trucks flew around the corner, lights flashing, guns drawn. The policemen had already pulled down their masks—no one would be able to identify them unless they were left behind.
And still the people ran.
We weren't exactly keeping count, but Ibis and I guessed there were at least 50 shots before the police arrived. We didn't make the light, and in the minute it took for the lights to cycle, the shots continued. The women stationed in the intersection seemed torn between washing another windshield for a couple pesos and diving for cover.
We just sunk as low as we could in our seats.
A couple miles away, after the checkpoint at the river that marks the border between the two states -— leaving Michoacan and entering Guerrero -- two more police trucks roared towards us.
The attack had already made the news by the time we got home an hour later. Apparently there was a shooting an hour earlier when the police tried to arrest people at a safehouse and were shot at from men inside the house.
An hour later, "the federal police men were ambushed by about 10 subjects, who opened fire with out warning against a the federal police convoy composed by three official trucks." The same three trucks we saw. Three people died in the first shooting, but fortunately no one was killed in the second.
I keep joking that the violence is following me, but this is no joke.