I was asleep when automatic weapon fire rang out at the Latah County Courthouse - about a mile and a half from my home. People who were still awake at 11:30 pm in the neighborhood recount hearing the shots. It would take more than that to awaken me!
When the radio came on at 6:15, the announcer was telling of a several block area that was closed due to a shooting. By then, the shooting was over, but the news was delayed in getting out. Then the phone started ringing, wondering if Sue had heard - and wondering if we would have church. Our church is only a couple of blocks from the scene, though according to the news reports we were just on the outskirts of the closed area.
At 7, Sue tried to get to the church - and was turned back - 8 blocks away. She came home and made the decision to cancel Sunday School. We would wait and try worship at 10:30. As it turned out, she must have just missed the opening of the barricades at 7. We held worship - though attendance was slim. Our Presbyterian sisters and brothers were far more traumatized, with their church sexton shot in the head in the office - as he talked to 9-1-1; and the shooter taking his own life in the sanctuary.
Ultimately, First United Methodist ended up hosting prayer vigils at the request of the Presbyterians. Sue and I were present each night to help as we could. And the Campus Christian Center (where I work) turned over our offices to the Presbyterian staff - since their church was closed as a crime scene.
In the end, four lost their lives - including the shooter. He killed his wife, Moscow PD officer Lee Newbill, and the Presbyterian church sexton. Throughout the week, there were many prayers, tears, - and MUCH confusion. Not in OUR peaceful little town! But, as our police captain noted later - "I knew we were not immune."
The week also contained a true sense of commUNITY - and grace, forgiveness, and yes - even humor. One of the local radio stations referred to the Presbyterian Church "sextant" - and Sue and I wondered aloud if they had lost their sense of direction!
We still wrestle with this violence - and wonder about things like appropriate access to firearms. The shooter had a fully automatic AK-47 - and one must wonder if the framers of the Constitution had such a weapon in mind. Perhaps the "right to bear arms" should apply only to muskets...
We continue our healing - and our innocence has been taken. Even in the small town - we are not immune.
Unfortunately - neither are you.