Thursday, December 06, 2007

Please Pray for Omaha

My friend Michelle took me out to lunch Wednesday at the Dundee Dell in Omaha, a nice little pub known for their fish and chips. Then we took in a little thrift store shopping to go on a quest for rare, unique treasures. During our excursion, I got a call from my other friend, Chris.

"There's a shooter at Westroads. They're on lockdown."


"Tell me you're kidding." Part of me wanted to believe she was telling a sick joke, and a funny, redeeming punchline was coming.

"I'm not kidding. No one can get in or out. The swat team's out there and cop cars and ambulances are everywhere."

I was relieved to learn that Chris was not at the Westroads Mall; she was reporting what had just been broadcast on television. The police have not released much information yet, other than that it appears all of the shootings took place in the Von Maur department store. Victims' names have not been released. Nine people are reported dead so far, but a recent rumor indicates that one of the five people hospitalized in the shooting has died, bringing the death count to ten. I'm not going to report anything on the shooter, because that's what he wanted, other than to say that he did have the decency of saving the people of Omaha money in court proceedings, because he killed himself following his rampage.

I haven't heard back yet from a couple of friends who often shop at Von Maur. My lunch buddy Michelle called me tonight and said that her father-in-law had been at Westroads today, but that he had left before the sniper began firing.

Please hold everyone in the Omaha area in your prayers and good thoughts. Omaha is such a friendly town. We're all going to remember where we were when we heard the news of the massacre here, the day when our reality was shattered, the day when 'it can't happen here' happened. I am shocked. SHOCKED.

Thank you.


Blogger Melissa Marsh said...

It's all so mind-numbing. I literally felt sick yesterday - physically sick that this happened. Yes, it can happen anywhere, but I am just infuriated that there are people out there who think that they have to kill innocent people because their own life isn't going well.

Please know that I am keeping you tucked in my thoughts and prayers, Diana.

9:20 AM  
Blogger Elizabeth Parker said...

Yes, it is very sad to think we can't even go Christmas shopping in Omaha without worrying we might be gunned down in Von Maur. I have to keep reminding myself that even though we sometimes feel tucked away from the big, bad world, anything and everything can and does "happen here" in Nebraska.

9:40 AM  
Blogger Kristi said...

I was stunned when I saw this on the news last night... the DH and I lived in Nebraska for quite a while and we shopped near there several times.. The city and the families are in our prayers today...

12:19 PM  
Blogger Diana Celesky said...

Melissa, Elizabeth and Kristi, Thank you all for your kind words and for your prayers. My buddy James in Los Angeles said his niece had been on the third floor of Von Maur at Westroads (where all but one of the killings took place) the day before the incident. So many close calls out there. It's hard to imagine the shock and pain of those who lost a loved one at Westroads. When I learned that one of the women killed, a Von Maur employee in customer service wrapping gifts, also worked full-time as a real estate agent, I called Michelle (my lunch buddy mentioned in my original post), also a real estate agent, as I cried and thanked her for not taking a gift-wrapping job for the holidays, as she had been pursuing about a month ago.

This real estate agent murdered, Beverly Flynn, is really the only victim I know anything about. The media, locally and nationally, had the opportunity to step up and not give the murderous dumb ass punk (whom I still refuse to name because he's not worthy of mention) the attention, but the media chose to focus almost exclusively on the killer and not the most important people in this mix, the victims who lost their lives senselessly. This lunatic played the media like a fiddle and they fell right into his trap just as easily as the decedents at the mall. The correct choice in reporting, speaking as someone whose Bachelor degree was in Journalism, not as someone in the mainstream media farce, would have been to focus more intently on the people who were snuffed out on Wednesday while going about their business at the mall. Those people were: Gary Sharf, a customer from Lincoln; John McDonald, a customer from Council Bluffs; Angie Schuster, employee of Von Maur; Maggie Webb, employee of Von Maur; Janet Jorgensen, employee at Von Maur; Diane Trent, employee of Von Maur; Gary Joy, employee of Von Maur; Beverly Flynn, employee of Von Maur.

I still know that the stranger next to me in the mall is more likely to push me into a storage closet to help protect me than to shoot me. I refuse to live my life in fear just because a few individuals, for whatever reason(s), lose it and take the low road and go on a violent rampage. I encourage everyone else not to buy into this fear the media is selling either. Omaha, and every other place on the planet, is as safe as we allow it to be.


12:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gary Joy is a true guardian angel, hero, and gentleman. He is the third cousin nine times removed of President of the United States, the United States Constitution signer, and the General of the Armies, George Washington, the direct descendant of Thomas Joy the builder of the first State House of Boston, the American Revolution, and the Mayflower. He is the distant cousin of Samuel Augustus Maverick and is the great-grandnephew eight times removed of colonist Samuel Maverick. He is of New England Yankee stock and he is a true patriot!

4:59 PM  

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