Content – Shooting outside my apartment door. Mention of blood. Gun violence.
Will I remember my own experience with gun violence every time there’s another shooting? The one today was far away in Norway but for many it brings up so much trauma.
I knew I was traumatized by the mass shooting in April 2021 at the FedEx building only 20 minutes from my home. That very parking lot and a few areas around it is where I was taken to learn to drive. I know the place. The shooting felt personal because of my connection to it. Eight lives were lost that day with many more forever altered.
A few weeks ago I posted about a shooting that took place 10 feet from my threshold, my front door. I can only go about 20 feet at the furthest from the door because this is an efficiency apartment. It’s little. This means that the only thing separating me from him and a gun was a little bit of plaster. He didn’t have to open my door. I was afraid of getting shot through the wall. I was close enough to the shooter to hear a sound I’ve never heard before, one I can only describe as unnatural.
Today I was trying to explain to Leroy what happened earlier in the day of the shooting which prompted the violence. That day, two individuals chose to abandon self control and natural affection. One died, the other is now a murderer. That is the short explanation. The longer one starts with the man who was shot who originally showed a severe lack of self control and lack of basic respect for human beings. He was an older white man with a cane. The shooter clearly showed a lack of self control and self restraint. What happened?
Earlier in the day the two residents argued. I came in on the argument bc I opened my door to see what on earth was going on in the hallway. When I opened the door a black man, who had walked down the 500 foot hallway, was taking some serious verbal abuse by the older white man at the very end of the hall. But then the older white man took the argument to a different level by calling the black man a bitch, repeatedly. He used that word no less than 5 times, mixed in with some other words.
He used the word and word combinations like a knife. He was trying to hurt him, trying to hurt him deeply. You could tell by the way he was saying it that he intended to cause a lot of harm to him as a man. This is an explanation of what happened, not a justification of anything. I’m saying, he chose his words because of the deep offense they cause.
As the black man walked down the hall away from the other man screaming, the black man (soon to be shooter) and I locked eyes. I was frightened by the eye contact. I remember thinking, please don’t let that man (white guy) drop the N-word. If he says it, things are going off the chain right now. I thought, just keep walking, you’re almost around the corner, just keep walking. I closed the door and thought nothing more about it other than that I was going to report it the next day.
Around 10:30pm I heard the most indescribable chaos 10 feet outside my own front door. The only word I have to describe the sounds coming from the shooter is, unnatural. It was way above rage. It wasn’t even animalistic, unless of course you compare it to what a pack of dogs sounds like as they tear a rabbit apart. Think that level of violence and overkill. It was horrific. I couldn’t even make out what he was roaring as he continued to fire. That is the unforgettable part for me, the sounds.
I was literally shaking all over. I couldn’t even remember how to call 911. I had to talk to myself and calm myself enough to remember how to punch in three numbers. I told the police “He and I locked eyes earlier and he knows I’m here.” I answered questions asked by the operator. The 911 operator said, the police are on their way, then she hung up on me. I called Leroy and told him what was happening. He was on speaker phone listening to gun fire. Leroy knew I was scared out of my wits. He said, what you’re hearing is the police taking care of things. I said, He’s still shooting. The police aren’t here yet! He was no longer a human being as he shot him again and again.
Of course it felt like forever before the police arrived though I don’t really know how long it was. But when the police did arrive it was like something out of La La Land. This is a locked building. So in the middle of this ordeal I had to remembered how to work the system to allow the police in the building from my apartment because they couldn’t get in. That was crazy! They actually buzzed my number for access to the building! He was finished shooting before the police arrived.
I didn’t leave the apartment for several days. I knew it had to be a mess out there and I didn’t want to see it. When I finally came out the only blood I saw was on the elevator door. That was more than enough for me. I heard it. I didn’t need to see it’s aftermath.
This brings me to the recent school shooting in Texas. When I saw the news I could imagine them hiding the way I tried to hide. I wondered if the murderer spoke while firing. Did he do a gutteral roar as he fired? What did the children hear, and will they ever forget that voice? Each new shooting takes me back to my own experience. Will it be the same for them?
The two residents that argued in my building took it to a level it didn’t need to go. They both showed a total disregard for human decency and respect. The abuser should not be dead. It’s murder. We know that. But if he had used self control with his mouth, would he still be alive? If the other man stayed in his apartment to calm down after he had already left, he wouldn’t be a murderer today. Lack of self control, lack of fellow feeling, disregard for consequences leads to all kinds of madness, madness that showed up on my doorstep.
Gun violence isn’t just on the news in areas of high crime. My area isn’t high crime like other areas in the city. Gun violence is not about income, race, age or any other detail like that. Gun violence is a human problem. It’s about human beings unable and unwilling to handle their problems in any other way. It’s about basic lack of love and fellow feel, things that keep a society together. It’s gone – that natural affection for each other is gone – in its absence are unspeakable crimes…. and many, many sleepless nights.
I’ll be wearing earphones quite a bit for the next week or so as people celebrate a national holiday with fireworks, aka gunfire.