It was a dark and stormy night. Well, actually it wasn’t. It was a peaceful Sunday night. Earlier that day I’d experienced 7 back-to-back seizures, but surprisingly, that is only incidental to our story. However, it does explain why Ivan and I were watching TV in our living area. Both of us were exhausted. Anyway, right in the middle of an episode from The Office, we were startled by 7 ear-splitting shots outside. We stared at each other in disbelief. Both of us have gone shooting before, and I’d spent 8 years in Wisconsin (aka deer hunting central), so it wasn’t hard to identify the sound: gunfire. 8 more rounds rang out only a few seconds later. “Get to the bathroom!” I ordered. (Side note, I’d received “active shooter” training at the school I used to work at. I’d hoped it would never prove useful. Anyway, that explains why I took the lead over Ivan in this situation.) Ideally, we would have run. It’s always better to run away from gunfire than hide. Shooters look for people hiding first. However, since I can’t run hiding was the best alternative. The bathroom made sense because it was the most bulletproof area. At this point we didn’t know if this was a random shooter/terrorist situation, or some sort of gang hit. There had been silence before and after, so we knew it wasn’t a domestic dispute.
Once installed in the bathroom, we called 911 and put our phones on “silent no vibrate”. This seems like a random detail, but it allows you to communicate with outside help without tipping the shooter off if they get close to your hiding spot. We agreed if we heard any more shots – or even footsteps – we’d turn the bathroom light off, jump behind the shower curtain, and lay down in the tub. Tubs are fairly bullet proof, too. I was really hoping the gunman was in the shopping center across the street, but it was impossible to know. The gun had been extremely loud, so if he was over there he had something a lot bigger than a handgun. Since there were no more shots, he’d either run away completely or was looking for somewhere to hide. Our apartment complex has several stories and the hallways are like a maze, so it would be a decent place to evade officers. We couldn’t assume he wasn’t inside. However, at least the silence made it more likely he’d had a target and wasn’t out to kill at random. We heard sirens only a couple of minutes later, signaling the arrival of law and order.
The police didn’t fire either, and we decided after a while that either they were still searching for the gunman or that he had fled the area completely. After another long while, we crawled toward the bedroom and Ivan peeked out between a crack in the window blinds. A police chief and a group of officers were standing right outside our window gesturing. On the ground a few yards away, surrounded by orange cones, lay something that looked like a garment. After a few minutes of gesturing, they turned to our emergency exit (right next to our unit), and burst inside. That was not reassuring in the least. Was the shooter really that close to us?? Finally the running footsteps slowed to a walk, and we breathed a sigh of (almost) relief. Maybe we were okay after all. Ivan began to pray out-loud but we were cut short by a sharp knock on our door. There was an officer outside to question us. I couldn’t figure out why he asked us so many questions. How were we supposed to know what had happened? Later, when we found out the homicide had taken place literally outside our window, it made more sense. The officer couldn’t give us any more specifics about what had happened, but at least we knew we were safe now. He also mentioned that he hadn’t been over to our complex in ages since we lived in such a safe area. This would have comforting except for what had just happened in spite of the “safe” location.
All the dramatic cars and tape cleared out the next day, and our street has been quiet ever since. Two detectives came back on Thursday to question me while Ivan was at work. They seemed disappointed that we hadn’t run to the window to look out when we’d heard the gunfire. Seriously, I hope no one in their right minds would ever do that – even if it made the detectives’ job easier afterwards.
So, some things we’re giving thanks for this week:
- Apparently gun shots do not trigger seizures, at least for me
- I actually had been trained in how to respond safely to a gun situation
- God protected us from stray bullets
- This was not a terrorist incident
If any of y’all are curious and want to read the official article on what happened, I’ve included it here
Lord-willing, this is the ONLY time someone will ever get shot to death outside our bedroom window!!!
P.S. Unrelated to this story, Ivan wanted me to let you know that we had another ER trip this Wednesday. I had 20 seizures back-to-back in about an hour and a half. Thankfully my dad got me to the hospital fast enough, but we would really love for that not to happen again. Still working to find the best medication combo!