Yesterday, we had an extremely scary thing happen. We were seriously 1/2 a block away from a drive-by shooting.
I had always wondered to myself, if I ever was in any kind of situation like this, if I would recognize the sound of the gun. I’ve grown up around guns, shot guns, and heard them in the distance (hey, I lived in the country quite a bit!) many times. Still, I always wondered if I’d think they were fireworks or something. Nope. That popping sound was distinct and sent an electric current through my whole body. My brain did not even hesitate. Before all of the shots were fired, and they were fired quickly, I knew we were very close to a gun.
It was a super nice day, and there were a few thing I wanted to get that I didn’t feel like ordering online, so we decided to venture to Target. Since it was so pretty outside, so we decided not to take the bus. This Target is about a 30min walk from our house, and is near the border of a nicer neighborhood (Ravenswood) and a not-so-nice neighborhood (Uptown). It’s pretty clear once you cross the border from Ravenswood into Uptown, however, it seems OK during the day. The Target is huge and newer, it’s right next to a big beautiful community college and there are a lot of people walking to and shopping there on the weekend. It was bright and sunny and people were out walking around it. Not scary, sketchy people…but nice, normal looking people. It’s about 5-10 minutes from Target back to the safer neighborhood so it never really seemed like that big of a deal, and most of the time it’s probably not (at night it’s probably a different story).
Josh discovered that there was a thrift store near by he had been wanting to check out, so we decided to walk over and take a look around after we were done shopping. We couldn’t remember what street it was on, so I had to look it up on my phone, which was being an asshole. It took me a minute, and some cursing, to get it to work but after I found the directions we crossed the street to walk the 1 block to the store.
We made it about 1/2 way up the block before I heard the 3 distinct pops of a semi-auto handgun. I froze, then started backing up, and Josh just kind of stood there confused. I found out after that he wasn’t really sure what the noise was, until he saw the reactions of everyone around him. People up on the next block scattered, 1 guy in particular took off running as fast as he could. A guy a few feet behind us started backing up, then ran around the corner. A guy across the street said “Oh shit” and grabbed his wife’s arm.
I was only hoping the shooter(s) would not run or drive down our street. But, as I heard tires squealing and saw a huge, old white van come around the corner, I realized we were completely exposed. No cars parked on the street., the alley was too far ahead of us and the store was too far behind us. I knew I was not supposed to run, just take cover. Elliot was in the Ergo and I was carrying him on the front, and our stroller was packed with our Target loot. As the van sped towards where we were, I said to Josh “get down” and I crouched behind the stroller, over the baby and Josh crouched down behind us. Luckily, the guys in the van (and there was a sedan closely following) just wanted to get out of there, and they sped through the light and went into the alley behind Target as fast as they could.
It seems like this scenario took forever, but it was really only 30 seconds. By the time we stood up and looked around us we heard sirens coming from all sides. An ambulance and a firetruck went up to where the shooting happened and cops whizzed by in the direction of the van. A cop car at the other end of the street was telling people to move along, so we did as quickly as possible. We heard sirens all the way back to our neighborhood, and at one point we looked south and saw a cluster of cop cars. I wonder if they stopped them.
Josh and I had completely different ways of reacting. Josh tends to freak out more in the moment, and right after…but after talking to his dad and brother and sitting with it for a few hours, he seemed ok. I’m sort of the opposite…in the moment I was completely calm and rational. I knew exactly what to do and I felt intensely focused. Later that night, the emotions kicked in and I started to feel upset about it.
This morning, we feel ok.
We know it’s important to not let one incident affect how we view everything about this city. Dangerous things happen everywhere, I’ve heard plenty of gunshots (not all hunting related, mind you) in my hometown of Yakima, which actually has some of the worst crime rates for a city of it’s size in the country. Josh has gotten a knife pulled on him in his hometown of Mountlake Terrace. After 6 years of living in Bellingham, we both witnessed plenty of shady, scary things in a town that is actually considered to be quite safe. Thought this is probably the scariest thing so far, we realize it could happen no matter where we live, though there is apparently a greater chance of that happening in certain areas…even on a sunny, Sunday afternoon.
We feel pretty grateful to live in our little neighborhood of Lincoln Square. People here tease us about living in “Strollerville” but I like that I can take a walk at night and not feel like I’m in danger, or take my kid outside in the middle of the day and not wonder if anything awful will happen. Maybe it could, but it’s a lot less likely…our neighborhood is a little less drug-war and a lot more “there-is-a-clearance-sale-at-the-baby-boutique” war.
Hopefully, I won’t have anything this exciting to post again anytime soon. I’d rather stick to the everyday stuff.