Wednesday, December 5, 2007
They were moms, shopping for gifts for their children. They were aunts, stopping by the mall on their lunch hour to buy boots, because it's going to snow tomorrow. They were Von Maur employees at the customer service counter, wrapping gifts to go under the tree.
And then gunshots rang out. And when it was over, nine were dead, including the 20-year-old killer who had come to the mall to die, because he wanted to "be famous." He had recently broken up with his longtime girlfriend, but the trigger today was because he had recently been fired from his job at McDonald's.
We don't yet know the names of his victims, but the mom of one of my friends is a survivor. She worked on that floor of the Von Maur department store at Westroads Mall, and she saw the gunman kill people, randomly shooting people... including some of her coworkers.
How do you make sense of this? The stories are incongruent. The pianist at the upscale store continued to play even as the first gunshots rang out. Some people walked toward the sound of the gunfire, not believing it was someone shooting. They thought it was construction noise, or balloons popping. The stories of heroism, many of them Von Maur employees, or employees of JCPenney's, next door. Clerks who ushered customers to safety in storerooms, or fitting rooms.
Pray for them, please. For the victims. For their families. For those who witnessed these horrific events. And for the first responders, who rushed to the mall from every corner of the city and county, who ran in with guns drawn to face an unknown assailant. Pray for us.