It's been a crazy week in the Pac Northwest. Seattle grabbed world headlines with a day of violence. One man, mentally ill, clearly, shot five people in a coffee bar then went downtown and shot another woman and stole her car. Five of those people died. The gunman then killed himself, later in the day.
First off, I'm not going to get into the gun control debate. I honestly don't know where I stand on that issue. I just know, you cannot plan for every contingency. You do the best you can with what you have to work with. And invariably, someone will escape detection, fall through the cracks, etc. I hope I'm not coming across as defeatist by saying that. I'm quite the opposite. I have very high regard for my fellow man. I think the vast vast majority of the people I share this earth with are good people. People, who would not go out of their way to purposely cause trouble or pain to others. People like this gunman are the anomaly. Many many people struggle with mental illness. Most do not go on shooting rampages. I don't think the community at large has anything more to fear today than it did on Tuesday - before this happened.
Obviously, the news focus the day of the shooting was on the shooting itself, and apprehending the suspect, who was on the loose for several hours. What I'm heartened about, is the media coverage following that.
In the last two days, I've felt like I've lost people I've known...which is a good way to feel in a situation like that, as far as I'm concerned. No, I never met any of them, nor do I know anyone who knew them. But the media has done a good job of covering who these people were. They are not just "six people shot in Seattle." We've learned that two were musicians in the alternative rock scene. One was an aspiring actress. Another was a wife and mom from the suburbs, in town for the day.
We've learned of the goodness of the average man.
We learned about a homeless man, a convicted felon, who came to the aid of the wife and mother. He was with her as she lay dying. He prayed for her. He told her she was not alone. What a great reminder that homeless people are first and foremost, people.
We've learned of other people, ordinary citizens, who came to this woman's side as well. Came to her, while the gunman was driving away in front of them. They could have just as easily been shot, but they all said they didn't realize that until later. They just saw the woman on the ground and knew she needed help.
We've learned about a man in the coffee shop, who threw a bar stool at the gunman, which allowed two or three people to escape the shop unharmed. We learned about the barista in the coffee shop, who though critically injured himself was able to call 911. The barista is the only shooting victim to survive.
Nobody is accepting the title "hero."
We've watched the community come together over this tragedy.
We've been reminded of another set of victims in this tragedy. That would be the family of the gunman. Their grief is so multi layered. It's more than most of us can comprehend. I know a little bit about what that's like.
I spent the first six years of my life in North Tacoma. Ted Bundy was my parents newspaper boy when they were first married. One of his close friends, David, lived next door to us. I'm told I sat on his lap, though I have no memory of this. It's not unlikely though, I would have been a very little girl, and I sat on a lot of laps when I was a very little girl. I certainly remember sitting on David's lap. Bundy's parents were part of the community my family was a part of. They were ordinary people, who went to the same annual Christmas party we did. I have no idea if they are still alive. They would likely be in their 80's if they are. But they became nearly as notorious as their son, even despised by some. The media was quick to assign blame to the parents. What a thing they had to live with.
Nothing will of course change what happened. Could it have been prevented? Probably not. Will good come from this? Undoubtedly. And I think it's totally appropriate to focus on and even celebrate that good.
May God's grace and love shine through on all of us in these times.