My heart lurched at 3:15 (a.m.) this morning, when my ears heard the sound of a single lone car, zooming down the main street we are so close to. The antennas in my ears shot to full height and started scanning the air waves, questioning, were sirens going to be coming into hearing range too? The mind questioned, had there really been a lady with him in the vehicle early on in the craziness, and the car I had just heard, was her, trying now to make her own escape from our police force? Had the whole unfathomable chain of events, taken on a whole new twist, thus meaning that what all of us had thought was an end to the horrifying madness, ending around midnight, hadn't been after all?
But my ears could not dtect another sound. There didn't seem to be any other cars on the roads at all. While that in itself was not common, my heart relaxed. Everybody and anybody around here had gone to bed, too emotionally drained from what all did happen, to do anything but that for now.
Tomarrow we would try to come to grips with what had happened. Tomarrow the authroities would be doing debriefings up the wazoo, while the investigations continued, and the 'paper work' started piling, and the community at large talked over again and again the unfathomableness of all of it.
But during those wee morning hours, we were exhausted, in oh so many ways. Our brains could no longer strive to make sense of all the horribleness that had happened. All systems had chosen to take the shut down coping method, for now.
It is now morning. It is the 'tomarrow'. One of the leading Yahoo(R) headlines when I signed on to the computer, was about all of the happenings around here yesterday. While Brian and I had continued to watch the local TV stations coverage of all of it last night, Benson and Brent had gone to the basement. They had come up from time to time, to tell us they were listening to the police scanner via the internet, that the event was being carried by national as well as CNN(R) news, that Facebook(R) was past a buzz with all of it, etc..
The real irony to me, was that yesterday morning I had read several peoples comments, questioning when all of the attention was going to turn away from the young mom in Florida, who had just been acquitted of killing her young daughter. They were all saying they were tired of hearing about all of that. There answer came. In a way none of us would have imagined. In a way that all of us truly wish it hadn't. On so many levels.
Ever so often, after some type of horrific thing happens someplace, you hear somebody tell a reporter that they can't believe this happened "here". Somebody told one of our reporters exactly that yesterday. And all of us in the community are in total agreement. What happened was the type of stuff writers make up for movie scripts, right?! And they have been filming movies around here the last couple of years....
But none of it was footage for some movie, although we know that a lot of the footage of the police chasing the suspect, will most likely end up on one of those extreme car chases shows. But we're not proud of that. None of yesterday's happenings are the type that we want bringing attention to our city and community. This is not what we want to be known for!!!
We're proud of hosting a 10K race which is big enough, it's one of the races contestants can use to qualify for the Boston Marathon. We don't mind all of the people traveling to tour the Fredrick Meijer Gardens, or to see our fish ladder (or to try and catch the fish which yearly try to jump up it during their spring migration), or yearly art prize competition, or visit the Gerald R. Ford Museum, amongst other great things we as a city and community host, in one form or another.
But to be known for having one of our citizens having murdered a total of seven people, three at one house, four at another, two of them reportedly children? No, we do not want to be known for that!
Nor do we want to be known for his high speed chase, which covered so-o much of our city. Through city streets. Not only hitting, but also repeatedly shooting at a police car. One of his bullets hitting a women in a nearby vehicle. His continually firing of bullets, evidenced in the ground and buildings all over his wild course downtown, but miraculously not hitting anybody else. (Thank-you Lord!)
He had fired at and hit somebody else a bit earlier on the day. It was a case of road rage. But miraculously, he hit the victim just right in the nose, so that the plate the victim had in his nose, from an earlier in life brush with cancer, had deflected the bullet. Miraculous! (Thank-you Lord!!)
But then he had left the city streets and gone up on the highway. The definitely busy highway! With what, twenty police cars in pursuit? Let me tell you, they were in high speed, HOT pursuit. They had been booking it so fast, that when they had passed on the area of the nearby main street, where we could see them pass, all we saw was a blur. Seriously!! We could hear the screaming sirens flying by, but all we could see of the cars, were a blur. We 'think' they were either city or state cars, because it was a dark colored blur, and the county's cars are white locally. All we can tell you for sure, is they were after him, and speed was 'full throttle open!'.
We could hear all of the sirens from the highway. We had been hearing sirens for hours. Our "What the heck's going on?" had changed to "Oh. My. Gosh!".
We were watching the chase on TV. But then, then, when the driver of the car being chased did the unthinkable, and crossed over the medium into on coming traffic... we literally lunged forward in our seats. My arms were covered in a double layer of goose bumps. Suddenly I realized that one of my hands was covering my mouth. With out realizing I had done so, I had stopped the exclamations and shocks coming out of my own mouth, so that I could concentrate on what the highway traffic cameras were streaming to the local TV stations. And my heart and mind had also started sending up pleading prayers for every single person who ever so innocently, were in one of those cars heading the correct direction, while this driver, who obviously was not in his right mind, was now leading a few of the police vehicles in a high speed chase the wrong direction down the local highway.
But God did more of his miraculous intervening and not only did the wild driver not hit anybody, all of the other drivers managed to avoid getting in even a single pile up themselves. (Thank-you Lord!!!)
The get away car had had smoke pouring out behind it. Was it due to the fact that the police had effectively shot out three of his four tires? Was something else on the car going, due to the continued high speeds he was driving? All of the possibilities were being questioned. Not only by the media, but by all of us watching the scenes unfold via their cameras as well. This wasn't a movie, it was reality. But like in movies, was his car going to burst into fire as well? Is that really possible? Our questioning continued.
And then something happened and he went off of the highway into a ditch. And before we could double blink, he was out of the car and on foot. The horror factor rose yet again. Do we currently know anybody who's living in that area? We knew Brandon did ... Our prayers were now for all of the people living in that area. ALL of them, including the ones Brandon knows.
And our prayers for the police force(s) continued. There were city police cars in abundance. And there were state police cars. That's not that unusual, seeings how they have a couple close by stations. But there were so-o many of them. AND there were county cars. Again, in abundance. And the media was telling us how nearby citys had offered to lend officers, to cover any other things that were happening elsewhere in our city, which the police usuallly need to respond to.
But there weren't only officers on the ground. They were in the air as well.
And not only were the two legged human officers involved, they had the four legged canine unit in chase as well. Only minutes after he fled his car, they had the dogs in pursuit.
And then the report came that our newest fears in this nightmare had actually happened. The guy the police had been chasing, had broken into a nearby home, and yes, there had been people in the house and he now had hostages. Out stomach's and hearts sunk. He 'reportedly' had already shot and killed seven people THAT day, would he add more to the total? "Oh Lord..." our prayers continued.
And we waited. And we prayed. And our nerves jumped when the police pushed the media back, yet again, even further. "What's really going on down that street?"
And we felt for the news reporters, whom kept endlessly recovering the same material. And yet we knew they didn't dare return to their regularly scheduled programing. They'd tried that earlier in the day, only to keep breaking in with updates. And new twists on the events. And new events as he continued to rage on, out of control.
And then we felt for the chief of police (I think that's the right title/position), as he came out to give us, via the media, updates. So much had happened. So many things. It would be hard to make a report on one shooting scene with fatalities. There had been two scenes. With fatalities at both. Multiple fatalities at both. And two others had gun shot injuries. And then there had been the high speed chase, which had covered how many miles? And done how many absurd things? And now there were hostages involved. Our prayers included him - the chief of police (or whatever his proper title is).
After awhile, the chief reported that one hostage had been released. We took a deep breath. Maybe the guy the police were after, would release all of his hostages - after all, he supposedly was connected in one way of another to the people he had shot (not at all implying that made it okay!!!), but he didn't know these people whom were now his hostages. "Lord, please let that make a difference!"
Then the word came that there were two more hostages still in the house. One was somebody who had stopped by to visit the home owners, not long before the 'suspect' (as they were referring to the man who had been driving the car) had broken his way into the home. Mercy!
The 'suspect' had demanded Gatorade. Brian commented about how long the guy had been on how high of an adrenaline rush?!?!! Theories were, that that wasn't the only kind of a high he was on.
And then the chief confirmed the reports that the 'suspect' had ended it by putting his gun to his own head and pulling the trigger. Yes, he had medically been declared dead. Yes, the other two suspects were okay. No, the police had not shot the 'suspect'. And no, no police officers had even been wounded in this line of duty. (Thank-you Lord!!!) And no, he couldn't comment on this or that earlier event, he hadn't yet been debriefed by the officers whom had been involved. And so-o much had happened in such a relatively short amount of time, that he was not yet ready or willing to go into any depth about any of the twists of the day.
We started truly breathing again. And thanking the Lord that the hostages, while most likely extremely emotionally damaged, hadn't also been physically hurt or even killed.
And this morning while I've been typing this, I keep hearing helicopters pass overhead. They don't have the sound of the med chopper. Is it more media which have arrived in our city, tying to show all of the areas involved? Is it our own officers, now on a calm basis, recording mileage the 'suspect' had covered, etc.? Perhaps taking the time to take areal shots of the proof left behind? The cars that had driven into the median to avoid the oncoming car, and left their tire tracks behind.
My prayers continue. For so-o many people. For the family, friends and neighbors of the slain victims. For the two people whom were shot. For every single police officer and support staff who were involved in all of it. There had to be at least a hundred total. "Help their frayed nerves Lord". For us, as a city and community. Help us to heal. Pull us closer together. Help us to be gracious to the ones whom descend to get "the scoop". Let them leave with a positive impression of us, the cities people. "And Lord, Thank-you, thank-you, thank-you, that this didn't end up totaling ever so many more injured or killed!!!"
And all of Grand Rapids said, "AMEN!!!"
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I 'plan' on linking this posting up to:
~ "The Wednesday Window - Promote Your Favorite Blog Post", hosted by JR Frugal Mom, at 'Frugality Is Free' (http://www.frugalityisfree.com/).