If you live in the DC area, you remember where you were and what you were doing ten years ago today.
This week marks the ten year anniversary of the DC sniper shootings.
For me personally, it was one of the scarier times that I can remember. I was doing my college internship at the time, and I was working in Rockville every day. Ten years ago this morning, I remember turning on the television and hearing about a couple of shootings in the Wheaton/Aspen Hill area (about five miles away). One person was shot at a gas station while pumping gas, and another was shot while sitting on a bench outside of a store in a shopping center. My grandpa would frequent that shopping center all of the time, so once I heard I immediately called him to make sure he was okay (thankfully he was).
That day marked the beginning of a three week shooting rampage that terrified everyone in the area. People were shot and killed at random. A man mowing the grass. A woman walking out of a Home Depot store. A bus driver waiting for his shift to begin. Even a thirteen year old boy outside of his school (luckily, he survived). No one was safe.
I vividly remember people laying down in their cars while pumping gas. Everyone nervously walked from their cars to stores, looking over their shoulders, wondering if they were going to be the next target.
I felt a little bit of comfort knowing that I worked right down the street from the Montgomery County Police command center. Every day I would drive by and there would be a sea of news trucks setting up for the next press conference. Sadly, there were many press conferences considering there was a shooting almost every day. I remember feeling a sense of dread turning on the news in the morning and the evening, knowing that I would probably hear about another innocent victim who lost their life.
Three weeks later, thirteen people had been shot and killed. Fortunately, someone spotted the vehicle the suspects were driving and they were taken into custody.
I often run, walk, and take pictures at Brookside Gardens in Wheaton, MD. It’s a very peaceful park and a great place for reflection. In a serene corner of the park near a lake’s edge, there is a memorial for the victims. There are three pieces of carved stone. One lists all of the names of the victims; the others display heartfelt messages of sorrow, hope, and gratitude that describe what the community experienced during that time in October 2002.
Even though it’s been ten years, it doesn’t erase the fact that life is short and your life can be taken at any moment. The people who lost their lives were doing ordinary things that are part of every day routines. It reminds me when times get tough, I still have my life and I’m thankful for that.
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