Friday, August 10, 2018
This morning, I slept in a little. It’s one of my days off.
I heard my phone ding. I ignored it. “I’ll check it later,” I thought. “Besides, it’s only a little after eight in the morning.”
A few minutes later, I was again awoken – this time by my mother.
“There’s a shooting out on Brookside Drive between the Ring Road and Main Street. Four people are dead.”
I checked my phone. There was a text message from a friend saying, “LOCK YOUR DOORS!!!!!”
I got up, went into the living room, and turned on the tv. What I saw was something I never thought would happen so close to home.
A few of my family members go for walks regularly in the mornings, which would be in very close proximity to where this horrifying scene was happening.
Another person I know takes her daughter to a daycare which would have taken them right into the active shooting area.
By the grace of God, they were out of harm’s way while things were still unfolding.
A man I grew up with is on the police force and was probably on the scene.
Three other men from my hometown are firefighters and were probably on the scene as well.
Friends and family were messaging us to check in with us to see if we were okay.
All the while, we were watching the whole thing unfold on tv – with our doors locked and blinds closed. At the time, we didn’t know what was going on other than that there was an active shooter in the area that had not been caught.
There was an extremely unsettling feeling that was reminiscent of the 2014 rampage that happened in Moncton. During that time, I had been working at a camp and was there alone – and no one knew where the shooter was. Even though Moncton was a few hours away, he could have been anywhere in the province because the manhunt had went on for over 28 hours. That hit close to home – because it was close to home. And one of the officers that had been fatally shot had been an officer in my hometown years before. I had my picture taken with him when I graduated. His wife worked at the youth center I used to frequent in my teenage years.
Over the past few months, Toronto has been hit by acts of terror as well – a van rampage in April and then a shooting rampage in July. Toronto is a city I’ve been to several times and have very fond memories of from my time spent there – and is only about 13 hours away. Again, close to home.
But I never — never — thought it would be so close to home that I’d be locking my door, closing my blinds, and hoping and praying that the shooter wouldn’t walk down my street. I never thought I’d have to wonder if my friends were safe during an active shooting.
How is it that this has become such a common occurrence? How is it that going to school, concerts, sporting events, eating a meal on a patio downtown, or sitting in your own apartment has become such a dangerous thing?
I am grateful to live in a city where we have an excellent police department. They’re quick to respond to and thoroughly investigate causes of concern. They keep the public up-to-date on situations through professionally and thoughtfully worded social media posts.
The Bible says “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” Police officers choose their profession, aware that these situations could happen, but they choose it anyway; they feel a calling to serve and protect. The officers responding to the active shooter scene today went above and beyond the call of duty.
As our Prime Minister said about the two fallen police officers, “They did not think twice about what they had to do to keep their fellow Canadians safe. We will not forget the two fallen police officers whose sacrifice no doubt saved lives and prevented even greater tragedy.”
Our police force made the ultimate sacrifice – putting their lives on the line for the people in their city. I saw some footage on tv of people being evacuated from their apartment buildings while being shielded by a police officer. They continued to work hard to protect civilians, arrest the perpetrator, and preserve the integrity of the investigation while mourning the loss of two of their co-workers/friends. I can’t imagine how difficult that would be.
Thank you, Fredericton Police Department and first responders – you are heroes. We are so grateful for you. Our hearts go out to you and we mourn with you.