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Editor’s note: Ruby Gonzales was one of 17 reporters selected to witness Tuesday morning’s execution of Stanley Tookie Williams at San Quentin State Prison. SAN QUENTIN – As a reporter for 15 years, I have covered the maimed and the dead. But I’d never witnessed an execution. It’s a story most reporters dream about covering, and also dread. Inside the pressure cooker that was the San Quentin State Prison execution chamber, I told myself this was part of my job. I watched the massive chest of convicted killer and children’s book author Stanley Tookie Williams – who victims’ rights advocates compared to a monster and Jesse Jackson compared to Jesus – go still. Then a prison guard pierced the silence with the announcement of the death time: 12:35 a.m. Tuesday. I was one of 39 witnesses to the execution of Williams, co-founder of the Crips gang and author of anti-gang children’s books whom many wanted to spare from such a fate. Before entering the execution chamber shortly before midnight Tuesday, each reporter was assigned a prison guard. As we walked out of the officers’ break room, we passed a phalanx of solemn guards. We were allowed a wristwatch, the golden badge that marked us as media witnesses, a few sheets of lined paper and a pencil. Witnesses were told that stepping down from the risers we stood on, talking loudly or sobbing loudly would be grounds to remove us. Lora Owens was among those seated in metal chairs facing the green execution chamber. Williams shot and killed her stepson, Whittier 7-Eleven clerk Albert Owens, during a 1979 robbery that netted $120. Williams also fatally shot Yen-I Yang, Tsai-Shai Yang and Ye-Chen Lin during the robbery of a Los Angeles motel. But we were told that their relatives wouldn’t be there to witness the execution. Shortly after midnight, the curtain covering the windows of the execution chamber were pulled back. People could see into the execution chamber through five windows. The chamber measures about 7 1/2 feet in diameter. Dressed in a light-blue shirt and dark-blue pants and wearing glasses, Williams was led by guards into the small green chamber. His wrists were cuffed and he wore a chain around his waist, but I could not see if he had leg shackles on. They strapped him to the bed, then pulled on latex gloves. It took about three minutes for someone to insert a needle into Williams’ vein for the first IV to administer the lethal injection. It took longer, about 12 minutes, to find a second vein to attach another IV. At one point, the 51-year-old Williams raised his head, grimaced and said something to the staff. I could not make out what he said although another media witness claimed he said, “Still can’t find it?” We saw blood. During the execution, Williams turned his head toward his witnesses and appeared to be communicating to them. What it was, I couldn’t hear. He looked at the reporters, who were busy scribbling and craning to get a good view of him. It seemed like he was questioning why we were there. It wasn’t a threatening gesture to me, more like he didn’t like our presence. A blond woman cried and several other witnesses seemed ill at ease. One man put his hands in his pockets. Another glanced at Williams, then at other people. Another blond woman clasped her hands and put them on her knees. Later, her hand moved to her mouth. One man stared intently at Williams and tilted his head this way and that. There were no outbursts from Williams, who talked to one of the guards. They later taped his hands to the bed, covering them so even the fingers weren’t visible. We were told later that it was part of the procedure. Then they turned the bed so that media witnesses couldn’t see his face anymore, just the top of his head and his body. The sound of scribbling and the whir of a machine could be heard in the room. It was quiet as his chest slowly rose and fell. Williams had asked for five people to be his witnesses. Reporters recognized two of them as his lawyer and Barbara Cottman Becnel, the woman who co-author of his books. A man was seen pumping his fist and mouthing “Tookie” during the execution. When it was over, Lora Owens sighed deeply. And a young woman put her arm around her. [email protected] (626) 962-8811, Ext. 2718 AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORERose Parade grand marshal Rita Moreno talks New Year’s Day outfit and ‘West Side Story’ remake160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!