“…Such bullshit. The football game was NOT stopped immediately. People started running and screaming well before the game was stopped. They failed to mention the total fucking chaos and the fact that all our children are mentally scarred for life. I hope they come up with a better way to handle situations like this.”
Not that it matters, but I was there the night I almost died, along with hundreds of others.
Right in the middle of Friday Night Lights, Kamiak versus Mariner, a minute before the fourth quarter… five shots rang out in the Everett sky, sending hordes of students, refs, players, coaches, parents, and other spectators toward one of two exits on opposite ends of the field.
Last night, in fact.
I’m pissed. And broken-hearted. And very nearly done with the human race.
I’m still putting the pieces of “The Incident at Goddard Stadium” together, maybe for a more straight-news piece, with quotes from the kids who were really there, not the officials talking in an official capacity, not the school district handlers with their usual freshly laundered news, not the media talking heads taking their word for everything.
We’ll see if I bother.
Until then, this is what really happened, to me:
My husband and I left before the third quarter ended to make it to one of our favorite sushi restaurants nearby. He went left, I went right, because we arrived in separate cars at separate times. At this point, I thought I heard a student passing by say something about a “shooting.” But I couldn’t tell for sure; the place was packed, the cheerleaders were cheering, the show band was jamming, the students were shrieking back and forth, from one play to another.
I hung back, standing behind the fence and in front of the concession stand to watch a few more plays when I heard police sirens, then saw police cars flying by, surrounding the main parking lot in front of the high school, where I was parked, btw. More police cars. A lady to my right looked over there nervously before we both felt a rumbling.
The rumbling became a roar as a wave of students came charging to our left, then our right. Not everybody, not yet.
That’s when I asked the lady what was going on. She said some kids were talking about a shooter on the loose. We looked up and the entire stadium emptied in a flash. The football players ran off the field. The show band members dropped their instruments and joined them.
I looked back at her and she was gone.
At this point, I heard a voice on the intercom yell, “Hit the decks!”
“Don’t worry about the game, mom. People are scared to die. Some aren’t.”
People everywhere, beside themselves. They ran toward the exit to my right, some headed straight for the Mariner locker room and the concession stand. That’s where I tried to go too, along with one or two students.
When we tried to get into the concession stand to shelter in place, the parent volunteers wouldn’t let us in. One of them actually pushed the students away and kicked at my leg to keep us out.
I stood there, looking around at the empty stadium, waiting to die. Every man for himself, right? Well, this was it. Holy shit, this was it. No ride-or-die hero, no neighbor helping neighbor, no 11th-hour save, no cavalry…none of that Hollywood social media-hyped bullshit… nothing but this deathly silence.
Somehow, after a few minutes felt like hours, I forced myself to move. Somewhere, anywhere.
As I passed the bleachers, where I sat blissfully earlier, I spotted a family, my friends, huddled together, sitting alone. I knew them from our kids playing baseball. Their youngest daughter cowered in her father’s arms, shaking and crying. Her father in shock, her mother semi-coherent. I had to ask them three times if they were okay before the mom nodded.
A random guy came around to encourage them to leave the stadium, now.
On the way out, I noticed Mariner and Kamiak football players calmly, kindly guiding the stragglers out toward the exit. I heard them say, “It’s okay. Don’t worry. You’re fine. Just go over there.” Doing the job of the police and the school, basically.
As we exited, a cop motioned for everyone to keep moving, do not stand still, get out, and most insulting, “stop taking selfies…” Stop taking selfies?? WTF?
He didn’t offer any additional advice, not where to go, what about the stuff we left back in the stadium? What about my car back in the other parking lot? Where’s the shooter? Is it safe to leave?
Kids were screaming, crying, holding one another, texting and calling their parents for rides, reassuring friends they were okay and where to find them. Not taking selfies, asshole.
Another of my son’s friends from baseball called my name. I turned. Caleb asked if James was there. I said no, and he relaxed, telling me that his parents were coming to get him. He also had his arms around his cousins, friends, some of them were freaking the fuck out. Okay, a lot of them were.
We stood in the darkness, next to buses, cars, flashing lights, next to each other, wondering what to do, trying to think straight, ears trained for the next series of gunshots.
Eventually, I found another cop who looked less belligerent, and asked her where we’re supposed to go. I needed to get the hell out of here already. She simply replied, “Get off the premises. Go home,” pointing to the apartments across the street and outward, as if we knew the drill.
After a few more questions, I learned that I could walk these sidewalks around the high school, the long way, back to the other parking lot and my car, out past the police barricade…to safety.
As I walked back, I mentally prepared to “Hit the decks!” at any minute.
I saw people walking by really fast with their heads down. I saw a tall, beefy football player, #55, screaming for his girlfriend, his face drenched in sweat and tears, his smaller friends trying to get him to get in the car and chill out, “she’s probably home by now, bro, stop screaming.” I saw a logjam of drivers nearly ram each other to get to their children… a stray pedestrian slammed his hand down on my car because I wouldn’t let him go by.
In the aftermath, I saw a lot of people trample over one another to save themselves. I saw a mother, a friendly parent volunteer — the same one who’d handed me my popcorn with a smile and a “Have a great time!” — prevent innocent kids from finding a safe place to hide, just to save her own sorry hide, when there was plenty of room in the makeshift concession stand.
I’m supposed to volunteer in that very same concession stand for Homecoming next month. Fat chance.
I’m not afraid of another shooter. I no longer give a rat’s ass.
Mr. Rogers said to look for the helpers. I did. But I couldn’t find any.
To add insult to injury, the official school district email arrived, right on cue:
“… At about 9 p.m., during the fourth quarter of the game, there was apparently an altercation between juveniles in the Mariner parking lot. The dispute moved off campus to 4th Avenue where five or six shots were fired. We are told by the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office that there were no injuries and no victims of this incident. There is no description of the suspect and the investigation will continue.
The football game was stopped immediately and the fans in Goddard Stadium quickly exited the grandstands. We are told that there was one injury during the evacuation when a student rolled an ankle. Fans were later allowed back into the grandstands to retrieve their belongings.”
Ha ha ha!
Total bullshit, of course.
I know this, I was there.
The game was not stopped immediately. It went on even after a photographer friend heard five shots, and students began charging for the exits.
Evacuation? What evacuation? We fended for ourselves! What else do you call it when the announcer can be heard helpfully yelling, “Hit the decks!” then utter, damning silence? I didn’t hear anyone in authority calling for calm or directing fans to the appropriate exits and back to their cars, like they’re supposed to… at a school function for god’s sakes.
Just an obnoxious cop bellowing at us to move along from a safe distance, outside the stadium.
Think about that. In light of all these shootings… nothing. Really, Everett?
Here’s what chills me to the bone. If there had been an active shooter, he’d have had a field day.
What I saw last night absolutely destroyed my faith in humanity. I saw that people don’t give a fuck about anybody else but themselves. They only “care” when it’s convenient, when the coast is clear and they’re safe and sound. Then, they look around and reach out with the lame, “Are you okay? Do you need anything?”
Fuck you. Fuck all of you.
Originally published at carolbankswebercoggie.wordpress.com on September 15, 2018.