Posted by: heartfull | February 8, 2008

My Backyard

Emmy: “Oh thank God – I just had to make sure you guys were ok”

Me: “What?”

Emmy: “There has been a mass-shooting at a Kirkwood City Council Meeting…”

I ran to the bedroom and turned on the news and watched, horrified. After a few minutes, I went into the girls room, tears in my eyes, and told them I could not read to them tonight. Something very bad had happened in our community and I was too upset. Figuring they would hear about it tomorrow at school anyways, I briefly told them about the bad man who had made bad choices because his mind was sick, just like we get sick in our bodies, his mind got sick…

I was glued to the TV, frantically trying to reach my mom, getting irritated with Chip for not just being asleep, already. Mom – where was she? Not that she has ever attended a city council meeting, but what if tonight was the night she decided to become civically active? The phone lines were a mess and getting a call to go through to her cell phone was hit or miss. I worried my sister and brother by calling them, looking for her. They hadn’t heard about it, but turned the news on. Eventually I found her, having dinner with a friend.

John was at the basketball game. I didn’t reach him until the game was over, but he and my dad hadn’t heard and were incredulous.

The specifics changed as the night wore on. Six dead, including the gunman was constant. Two police officers and three others in attendance – or was it four? Confusion. Two more were shot but not killed. No names were officially being released. The man – well known in the community because of his on going arguments with city hall – had rushed into the meeting yelling something along the lines of “kill the mayor.” Then some names were released on the internet and the newscaster turned his laptop around and showed the web pages – as if that released him from any journalistic duty to report only known facts. Never mind – I was glad to know anything. Oh my God – the mayor, Mike Swoboda! Connie Karr! Another council member and the public works director. Was the mayor dead? He was the gunman’s target, he has to be. Finally, around 10:30, we find out that Mike Swoboda just got out of surgery – he and a Suburban Journal journalist were the two injured but not immediately killed. But then. That means Connie Karr was killed. My mind races on, and on and on.

We live in Kirkwood for the community, the schools, the atmosphere. This doesn’t fit.

I drove to work this morning, again crying. NPR gave it a blip.



  1. I couldn’t believe it either. And Kirkwood always seemed like a place for the Cleavers to me…so tragic.

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