5/31/2019

We read about it happening in other cities. We talk about how horrible it is. We pray for the families of the victims. We don’t understand what happened or why…what made someone just “lose it” and go on a shooting spree, taking the lives of so many others.

We don’t understand why or how one person could destroy the lives of so many in just a few minutes. Why he had no feelings for his fellow human beings. Why he thought shooting so many people could solve whatever problems he had.

And we don’t think about anything like that happening in our own city, or own town. It always happens somewhere else.

Until it happens where we live. In our own community. In our case, ten minutes from our neighborhood.

Near the end of a work day, on a Friday afternoon, a disgruntled long-time city employee, after shooting and killing a contractor in his car in the parking lot, calmly walked through the employee entrance of Building 2 of the Municipal Complex and began shooting. Why? Who will ever know?

He killed twelve people during a 35 minute shooting spree. Four others are still in area hospitals in critical condition. The shooter was also killed by some of our brave first responders who risked their lives to save others and most likely prevented further carnage.

I heard about it like many others, a text message sent by a friend at the end of the work week that there were reports of an active shooter at the municipal center. We hear such reports often in our area since we are near so many military bases, and usually they prove to either be rumors or one person causing some problems not even gun related.

I didn’t think a lot about it, even when I checked the news apps on my phone, because it was still in the “reports of an active shooter and police are responding” report. With “no further details available at this time.”

Within the hour all of that had changed. And not for the better.

Rumors and stories spread across the news. Facebook and Twitter were blowing up with posts. As in every such situation, reports were skewed one way or the other, because in such emotional events, so many facts are repeated over and over and changed each time someone else repeats them.

That’s what happens.

But unfortunately at the end of this day, reports were sadly true. We watched and listened as the death toll kept rising. And couldn’t believe what we were hearing.

And at the end of the day, the end of the weekend, we could not, and still can not, even begin to understand the enormity of this event in our community. Nor will we ever.

We cannot begin to count the toll this has taken on the families of the victims; their friends and neighbors; the co-workers who were spared who will forever wonder how they made it and the person working next to them didn’t.

Husbands and wives lost their spouses. Children lost fathers and mothers. Parents lost children. Others lost brothers and sisters. And it goes on….

We did not personally know any of the victims. But over the last few days we’ve heard stories about them, and wish we had known them, because each and every one of them are being remembered as a very special, loving, and giving person. Their loved ones of course are devastated. Who could have known when they said their morning good-byes before heading to work that it would be their last?

I cannot begin to imagine what the families are going through; what their coworkers are going through; I can’t do anything to help them except contribute to the campaign that has been started to help the families financially. It’s a help, but nowhere nearly enough.

To everyone affected by this tragedy, our heartfelt condolences. Please know that this affects us all, but nowhere nearly as much as you who lost so much in the blink of an eye, the senseless pulling of a trigger.

Please keep our community and the victims in your thoughts and prayers.

#vbstrong

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