Today's headlines contain words such as "massacre," "14 dead," "hostages," barricades" and "Binghamton, NY" all together, hitting the AP, the BBC, CNN, MSNBC... It's worldwide now.
That massacre happened in my home town today!
I first found out during lunch as I sat in my truck enjoying the break from the craziness of the day. iPhone in hand, I hit the AP to see what was going on in the world. Right at the top was "American Civic Association in Binghamton, NY Shooting," and I freaked. I am a thousand miles away in Arkansas!
It wasn't a matter of "too close to home," it was home! Or, at least it used to be. Frantic, not thinking, I called a close friend's home phone, not even realizing that she was probably at work. I needed her to be home and safe! She is often called on in the community to interpret, and the article said an interpreter was called. Thankfully, her daughter answered the phone and told me right away that my friend was safe, though she was suffering a major asthma attack while being held in lock-down at the high school that is just on the other side of the church you see in this photo.
No one knew for sure what was going on. Stories were conflicting. No one knew how many were dead. One report said 4, another said 12, yet another said 14.
My head spinning, I called another friend. His house is within blocks of this incident, and my imagination took off, wondering if flying bullets hit his house and injured him! I hadn't talked to him in years, but there were my fingers automatically dialing his number. When his co-worker answered, I frantically told her to put him on the phone. As it turned out, his daughter was one of the many students in that locked down high school. But, he knew no more than I did.
My mind is still racing, even though the incident resolved hours ago. The suspected shooter, though they are still not sure if he was the shooter, was found dead, having shot himself. The shooter was reported to be in his 20s... or he was in his 40's. He was recently discharged from IBM, but IBM doesn't know anything. No one knows.
Racing, racing; my mind is still flying through a long list of names in my head of past ESL students, immigrants, refugees, people I worked with that worked with ESL students, immigrants and refugees; anyone I might know that could have been there. No names have been released. The bodies of the victims still lay where they fell on the floor of the Civic Association.
Nadia and Mike are OK. I don't know anything more than that. I am so relieved that these two very important people to me are safe, alive and well.
But, the day isn't over, and the hell continues...
The hell continues for those who suffer while waiting to hear of news of sons, daughters, wives, sisters, brothers, mothers, fathers and friends. While I may be frightened, it does not compare to their terror that must seem like it is everlasting and never-ending.
My heart is with you all.