In My Hometown: “Active Shooting in Progress”
We’ve all heard the words too often: “Live shooting in (fill in the blank).” There’s been such a rash string of active shooting events that we’re first alarmed, then desensitized by another event we can’t wrap our minds around. Most of the time it happens somewhere else. Suddenly, one day the words ring out and it’s your hometown in the crosshairs.
While sitting on the back deck enjoying a little bit of sun on a Sunday afternoon, the backyard neighbor shoots a text: “Active shooting in Austin, Texas.” We do a doubletake, expecting the neighbor to tell us some horrific news about someone they love, having been the victim of another shooting. While that would be downright awful, we would likely run right over and offer care and meals, or whatever they need. This time the news isn’t what we expect. There’s a shooting in our hometown.
Three dead in Austin. Active shooting in progress. The shooter has yet to be apprehended.
Life stops. Your stomach sinks. There’s a bottomless dull ache that feels like it will never go away. It always happens somewhere else. And that is always horrific; this time it’s in my hometown.
You do a quick inventory of where each family member is and make sure everyone is accounted for. One daughter is upstairs in her bedroom, and the other is two doors down, playing with a trusted friend and family.
My husband and I divide with the nod of a head as one goes upstairs, and I pick up the phone to text a picture of the alert to the mother who is currently responsible for the care of my other daughter. I don’t wait for a response but immediately follow up with a voice call:
“Hi, not sure if you saw the text, but please see active shooting in Austin, Texas. We’re shutting our garage door right now and recommend you keep the girls inside with you. Let’s connect before anyone comes home. We’ll come to get her. Please keep her with you until this situation resolves itself. Before anyone goes outside, let’s connect again.”
Of course she agreed. And she was glad I called because she hadn’t heard the news.
Likely there’s been an active shooting that’s caught your attention. Early in the year, too many tragic events have been in the news.
In Indianapolis, Indiana, a mass shooting occurred at a FedEx facility. A former employee killed eight people, including himself. A quote from the AP wire says:
“I see a man come out with a rifle in his hand and he starts firing and he starts yelling stuff that I could not understand,” Levi Miller told WTHR-TV. “What I ended up doing was ducking down to make sure he did not see me because I thought he would see me and he would shoot me.”
In Atlanta, Georgia, an attack on a massage parlor, killing eight people, seven of them women and six victims of Asian descent. The incident sparks again the issue of race, specifically “Asian hate.”
Representative Sam Park says:
“It’s important to demonstrate to the community that we’re fighting for them, that we’re fighting to protect our community to ensure that these sorts of horrific incidents do not happen again,” Park said.
In Boulder, Colorado, an attack on Table Mesa King Soopers supermarket leaves ten more dead and reopens the gun debate like a scab that just won’t heal.
According to one AP report:
“Colorado has a universal background check law covering almost all gun sales, but misdemeanor convictions generally do not prevent people from purchasing weapons.”
In Orange County, California, an office building comes under fire, and four more are dead with a fifth wounded. This shooting particularly memorable because one victim is a 9-year-old boy who is found cradled in the arms of a woman believed to be his mother, according to an AP report:
“Our hearts today go out to the victims, and I’m here to tell you that we’re going to do everything in our power in the Orange County District Attorney’s office to get justice for these families,” District Attorney Spitzer said.
Adams later shot himself to death. His brain is now being examined for a possible degenerative disease that has been shown to cause violent mood swings and other cognitive disorders in some athletes and members of the military.
Please notice each story is not to focus on the gunman, but with respect to the victims, and to honor their loss of life. While families mourn the loss of their loved ones it feels appropriate to respect their grief instead of giving attention to the ones who caused the loss.
On this day, a shooting reached my hometown, but soon it could be the town you live in. It’s always somewhere else until a shooting reaches the place where you live. Suddenly events become surreal.
As prevalent as shootings are becoming, it seems we’ll all be touched by them, whether at a supermarket, the post office, a community event, or when the kids go to school. Life goes on, and it seems horrific shootings are becoming a part of everyday life. A sad reality.
Hold your loved ones. Don’t forget to lavish them with care. Life changes in a second, and too often we don’t get a proper goodbye. In the sad cases this becomes an actuality, I’d like to focus on a quote from John F. Kennedy:
“Children are the living messages we send to a time we will not see.”
You were once a child and have your own message to share. And those who have children may still be writing a message to send forward. Foster all the good memories you can and write your message well.
Today there was a shooting in my hometown. Tomorrow there could be one in yours.