Boise Struggles to Cope With Aftermath Of Mass Shooting at Towne Square Mall
"Things like this don't happen here."
When writing articles for our website, I try to take my feelings out of things. Today, I can't do that. Consider this an open letter to anyone struggling to put into words how they're feeling after a mass shooting that left two people dead and five injured at the mall. We're not going to call it Boise Towne Square Mall, because that's not how any of us actually talk about it here. It's just the mall. It's our mall. Boise's only indoor shopping mall. And something unthinkable happened there.
Over the span of my career, I've been writing news for the better part of 14 years. There are times where I've written and covered some incredibly difficult headlines without feeling anything at all. Facts are facts. We need to get the information out to the public as soon as possible and as accurately as possible. At times, I've questioned "am I dead inside?" as I cranked out my stories on-air or online.
I didn't feel that way today. At 2 p.m., I got a text from one of my friends that read "Active shooter at the mall." My natural instinct was to ask "Who's your source?" and my blood ran cold when I read his response. It was his mom, who just lost her husband last year. She was working at J. Jill and called him from the store as she and her co-workers were huddled in the back room with the door locked. I didn't want to react until we knew more, but I know this family. They're some of the purest hearts you'll ever meet and it's unlike them to overreact to something without the facts.
Minutes later, the Boise Police Department tweeted that they were responding to reports of shots fired at the Boise Towne Square Mall. It was surreal reading those words. It was more surreal reading the next update 14 minutes later that officers were securing the scene and had someone in custody. This was real. This was happening.
I don't know if it hit me untilI turned on the news and saw a huge line of police cars surrounding somewhere I go to all the time without a care in the world. In fact, Old Chicago Boise Mall is one of the places I go when I want to escape the real world. It's my safe haven. Watching those images on the news...I closed my office door, sat at my desk and cried. I cried and I couldn't stop. This can't happen in Boise. Not my Boise. Not the Boise I brag about every opportunity that I have. This couldn't happen here.
But it did. And I'm rattled. While I know this doesn't happen everyday and I realize this is likely an isolated incident, I'm scared to go back to where my best friend and I celebrated her birthday a little over a week ago. I'm not alone. So many of us are rattled...and heartbroken because two people died at OUR mall today. Two innocent people. An officer was injured trying to protect OUR community from a senseless act of violence. The suspect is in critical condition, but lived and I have some strong feelings about that I'm trying to process.
I'm feeling a lot of emotions that I'm not totally familiar with and I know I'm not alone. If you're feeling the same way, know that you're not alone. Others are feeling similar emotions as the ones you're feeling and took to social media with their reactions. Before I share those, I want to say THANK YOU to the employees at Boise Towne Square Mall that reacted quickly to protect their co-workers and shoppers, the Boise Police Department and first responders who were instrumental in preventing this tragedy from being any worse. Our prayers go out to the families that lost someone today and to those who are healing from injuries.
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