Derrick Tabb: "Once the press came, things changed."
Another City Pages survivor story, this one by Derrick Tabb, told to Pete Scholtes:
"In the midst of me stealing that van, as my family was loading up, they had a lot of other families, elderly people, in the hotel, and they wanted to get in the van. But we didn't have enough room to put everybody in. So they had like a couple SUVs and another van, and I stole them, too. Then the people and their families drived the van out of the hotel.Derrick Tabb plays snare drums for the "Rebirth Brass Band," and he's apparently now back on the road with them.
This was my first time ever stealing a car. I know you don't believe it, but I have a lot of friends with car shops. I had two cars that were stolen. One of them I found on the street, and I had to use a screwdriver to drive it back. A friend on mine came and told me how to put it up. The thief had just gone joyriding.
I got five cars [from the hotel] altogether. One SUV Yukon, two 15-passenger vans, and two Ford Explorers. I had to start the cars for people. A couple of them knew how to start them once I popped it up for them. I loaded up my family and I left. [...]
It [the Convention Center] was horrible. It was just wild out there. It was all right 'til the police came with the press. Once the press came, things changed. The police was down with you taking food and all that, 'cause they was trying feed everybody. Then when the press came, they made it look like people was just looting. A lot of people wasn't looting just to be looting. They were really feeding people. You didn't want to see a lot of old people and babies crying for water and stuff. I watched my mother-in-law cry for some water. That part was just sad. I had to watch a couple people die. I watched more than a couple, I watched like about five people die, because I was walking back and forth the whole night. The police shot a couple people. It was about the worst situation in my life. I have never been in a situation like that. [...]
The police searched us when we got to the dome [Houston Astrodome]. I told him the van was stolen, and they took the van. They didn't arrest me at all. The police treated me like a hero, damn near. They took my gun. But to tell you the truth, they treated me real nice. They didn't handle me bad in any kind of way. But they was searching everybody and doing all the procedures, just doing their job. Especially one of the cops was like a real, I would say, redneck. He was really cool to me. He was chewing his tobacco and everything. He just wanted to tell me the rules and regulations of Texas, that I couldn't have my gun.