They say we're entitled, narcissistic, lacking work ethic, constantly needing affirmation of our overinflated self-esteem and we just won't leave the shelter of our parents and let them BE already! Well, I say I deserve a day off for my hard work, some recognition for it's superior quality and yes, Mom, I will be at dinner on Sunday.
I'm just trying to hold on to my youth, really. Aren't we all?
Law enforcement officers brief the media, including myself, at a press conference following a standoff with homicide suspect John F. Loring on Feb. 22. Sequim Gazette photo by Amanda Winters
The irony of my blog falling silent for two weeks after I spend an afternoon talking to people about blogs is not lost on me.
But wait till you hear my excuse.
While finishing a story on opiate addiction (http://www.sequimgazette.com/news/article.exm/2012-02-23_an_opiate_emergency) the morning of Feb. 21, I heard dispatchers on the police scanner report shots fired on Woodcock Road. My fellow reporter Mark Couhig went to the scene and I joined him when my story was done. Neither of us really had any idea what was going on. I had no idea I would be consumed by one story for the next nine days. But this was big.
As information became available, I posted it online at www.sequimgazette.com and to our Facebook page (www.facebook.com/sequimgazette) so people knew what was happening and how they could help law enforcement find the suspect. There were so many rumors going around; three people were killed, the suspect was in Solmar, no he was on Silberhorn Road, no he’s at Costco and the police have him surrounded. I stayed up late that night, letting people know we had no official word on where he was and definitely no confirmation of a third victim. Friends texted me asking what I knew and my uncle called to see if what he heard was true. I locked every lock on every door and was paranoid at every noise I heard coming from outside. I know I’m not the only one who had a hard time sleeping that night.
The next morning the Sheriff told us they had the suspect surrounded at an apartment complex. I went to the scene and stood behind the police line with my camera waiting for something to happen. Other news people and a couple regular Joes stood near me, on edge. The weather was on edge, too, the wind blowing the tear gas right at us and the rain pouring down before the skies opened up for sunshine and a rainbow. I heard the shots. I couldn’t have imagined what they were. I didn’t realize it was over until the police started leaving and the ambulance quietly and slowly pulled to the back of the apartment. But that was really just the beginning.
Law enforcement held a press conference at 1:30 that afternoon. I let the Seattle media crews with their severe-weather jackets, slick hairdos and impeccable enunciation ask their questions. By the time they were done I only had one: What did John Loring say to make law enforcement believe he might come out with guns blazing?
Now that I had the official comment from law enforcement the next thing to do was focus on the people involved. The hardest part of my job is writing about children who die. Grief is incredibly personal and to intrude upon that in the line of duty, as I must, is difficult and uncomfortable. On top of that were my own emotions.
Being on the scene of a murder, witnessing the police standoff, hearing the suicide shot, and now digging into the incredible pain of losing a total of three people so suddenly in such a violent manner was not something I was prepared for mentally. As someone not involved in the matter — I hadn’t lost anyone or anything during the ordeal, after all — it was strange to experience strong emotions throughout the entire week and have to validate my own feelings to myself. I couldn’t stop thinking about it.
What do you say to someone whose child died protecting her? “I’m sorry?” I couldn’t possibly know how the family feels. How do you do justice to someone’s life in 20 inches of newspaper copy? They didn’t teach me that in journalism school. I did my best.
A very small older lady came in to the Gazette today and told me I’m a “miracle worker.” She bought two newspapers so she could share my stories with other people. She thought I did such a good job. I’m flattered, but I really hope it’s a long time before I have to do something like that again. Or maybe I hope I never do.
I know I didn’t get everything right in my coverage. I hope I didn’t upset the families at all. I hope I did enough. Mostly, I hope our community can heal from this and maybe find something to learn from it.