It was supposed to be about a swim party. A swim party in Indiana at the end of February that you know about for three weeks can gain some momentum as a pretty big event, especially when you are 7 and 4 years old as my sons are. We had been to church that morning, filled up my wife’s car and gone home to grab lunch. After a quick bite and a short nap, we were gathering all of the stuff needed for a swim party. Bathing suits, towels, swim shoes, maybe the goggles that the 4 year old loves to wear. What else? Ok, we are ready.
Of course, we are running late. The 7 year old needed to grab a light saber because Star Wars was the theme of the party, the 4 year old wanted to watch some bug crawl across the driveway, I was grabbing the bag of swim gear and my wife was still wrapping the presents even as we were heading out the door. Everyone jumps into my 2005 Acura TL. Boys buckled safely into their booster and car seats and mom and I up front. We are off and while we are 30 minutes from the party and 15 minutes late leaving, I am still confident that I can cut down some of that time in route.
I back the car out of the garage and am ready to go. The location of the party is entered into the GPS so all we need to do is relax and let ‘Acura Annie’ lead us to the fun. Suddenly, my wife has a thought. I need to get my bathing suit. Now readers, if you do not know me or what I look like trust me when I tell you that seeing me in a bathing suit after a long winter is not something you want to think about and not something I wanted to make the nice people at the party suffer through. I have also been married for almost 14 years to the same wonderful woman and if she thinks I need to grab a suit, it is time to go grab a suit.
I put the car in park and run inside to try and find a bathing suit. I knew that a few weeks earlier my 4 year old had been to a swim party and I had also been instructed to bring a suit along just in case. Fortunately for all involved, it had stayed in the bag. I ran upstairs to the closet most likely to have the bag with the suit still in it. No dice. Not in the guest room either. That is when I heard my wife yell from downstairs that she had found the bag and to just grab a towel. As I grab a towel and head downstairs the phone rings. Are you kidding me? We are running late but curiosity not only killed the cat but stopped my wife for a brief moment as she peered into the kitchen to look at the caller ID. “It’s Michele” she said. “Are you kidding me, we need to get going,” I said as I headed for the garage, my wife now right behind me. That was when my life changed.
The sound I remember hearing as I took the first step into the garage was my Acura’s car door closing. To understand, we have a two car garage with my wife’s Chevy Trailblazer on the right side as you look at the house and that is also the side with the door from the house to the garage. Thus, for the first seconds, my view was blocked. However, the sound of the door closing should not happen. After about three steps, my worst possible nightmare was happening before my eyes. Looking at the car, some stranger was behind the wheel racing down my driveway with my children in the back seat. My wife and I run down the driveway screaming at the top of our lungs to ‘let the kids out’,’ stop’, ‘wait’, ‘please, oh dear God stop’…..
As he reaches the end of my driveway, he turns the car and heads to the right. I am trying to grab the car door handle, which I already know is locked because my car has the option to lock the doors when put in gear, I am considering jumping in front of the car, but realize he is not going to stop. He tears away with my children.
Readers, I hope that you never have to hear the sound of your spouse’s most haunting scream of desperation as you watch a stranger take off with your kids. The image and sounds will be with me until the day God calls me home.
I turn and run up the driveway to get my wife’s car keys and give chase. Usually you would need a trained search team and two hunting dogs to find my wife’s car keys, and that is if they are in her purse, but God had other plans that Sunday. I had used my wife’s keys to drive to church that morning but she does not have a copy of my keys on her keychain and since we were taking my car, I took her keys from my coat pocket and placed them in the middle of the kitchen table two minutes befrore we left the house.
Sprinting up the drive, I knew where the keys were and that I had to move fast. My car was already likely out of the subdivision and every second counted. Back to the garage and around the car as my wife races inside.
“Call 911. I am going after them.” I scream as she goes by. Getting into the Trailblazer, my eye catches something outside the garage to the right. It is my Acura, coming back. The person behind the wheel does not know how to get out of the subdivision and is doubling back to go out the way they came in. Flying out of the garage, the chase is on.
The road comes to a T and left is to the exit. As I buckle my seat belt and rip through the neighborhood, I dial 911 from my Treo 650. Why buckle my belt? Well, I know the boys are strapped in and if I am and things get bad, well, my seat belt is on. Coming to the exit of the subdivision, the road is straight and flat for at least a 1/2 mile in each direction (No, we do not live in the country. Indiana is just flat).
A look to the north and then to the south and instantly I can see my car rocketing away to the south. I later learn from the 7 year old he was going at least 100. I turn left and listen to the phone. All I can hear is something about having called 911 and something else when I put the phone down in the seat, put both hands on the wheel and put the accelerator all the way to the floor. For those of you not familiar with Acura TL’s, they are fast. Much faster than a Chevy Trailblazer, a fact that does not escape me rocking down the road. I am screaming at the phone about the stolen car with my kids, where I am, I am not all together sure what but it was desperate. Then something amazing happened.
Racing down the road a mile from my house, he has pulled the car over on the far left side of the road and slammed on the brakes. I can see the tail lights like a shining beacon of joy. He is getting out!
I see him run across the street into another car that had been following him. I later learned this is the car he had been in trolling our neighborhood for I do not know what. Opportunity?
Seeing him run across to the right side of the road in the south bound lane and my Acura on the far left, my decisions was easy. Place the Trailblazer in the north bound lane. Put me between them and my children. Any father worth his salt would have done the same. Now I will tell you, many fathers have told me they would have just rammed the guy, and it crossed my mind as I approached, but I dismissed it quickly. This person was stealing my car and he was not after the kids. All that would have done is landed me in jail. No, protect the boys and end the most terrifying 4 minutes of my life. It is done. Thank God.
I race up, slam on the brakes and position my Trailblazer in the north bound lane. To get the visual, the Acura is on the left, off the road on the shoulder, the accomplice is in the right lane and 15 feet or so ahead of the Acura and I come racing in the middle. All that needs to happen here is for them to leave. It is over and we….
I look over at the accomplice car and in less than the blink of an eye realize it is far from over.
The person who has just jumped out of my Acura has a gun pointed at me.
I have never had a gun pointed at me but let me tell you, police say that untrained people always look at the gun and not the shooter. Police are right. All I saw was the barrel of that gun pointed at me in the car.
I leaned forward and stepped on the gas, trying to get out of the way a quickly as possible. But is was not fast enough. Three, maybe four shots fired at me from about ten feet away.
The first shot entered the middle of the passenger door, through the interior molding, into the center console, through a tin of Altoids, out the other side of the console and into me. It entered at the top part of my right butt cheek and exited at the top of my butt crack. Now readers, please know that I have thought long and hard about how to describe where I was hit and that is about the best I can do. I have said buttocks but all I get then is Forrest Gump stuff. I am sure there are medical terms but as I am not a doctor, let’s go with that. If you have a better way to describe it, feel free to help me out.
The second shot hit the frame between the front and back door, a third hit a tire and if there was a fourth, I am not sure of what happened to that but no one was hurt by it.
As I saw the gun, I accelerated and moved most of my butt out of the way, I took the first left I could and stopped. I knew I had been shot. I knew my children were still sitting helpless in the Acura and I knew that if they turned down that road, it was not going to be good. Thanks again to God that they took off south bound and were gone.
I backed the car up and raced to my boys. I jumped out of the Trailblazer and raced over to them. They were ok. Scared to a level that no child should have to deal with, but they were not hurt.
They were ok.
The event is NOW over. People, wonderful people, people that God put there to help, were coming over, stopping, coming out of their houses. Calling 911. Coming to me. Helping my boys.
My wife has no idea. I must call her and talk to her now. She needs to know we are all ok. Now understand, I did not know the extent of the gunshot (feels weird to write that) wound, but since I was running around, talking to people, able to still move I felt I was ok. My wife has to know we are ok.
The last thing she saw was a stranger stealing my car with her children in back and her husband racing after them. What I found out later was she did not see the Acura come back by so she had no idea how close of a pursuit I was in. What I found out she heard on the 911 call still gives me goose bumps.
I must now move to my wife’s part as told by me.
As she runs in and grabs the phone to call 911, neighbors are all coming out of there houses. It is 1:45 on a Sunday in a neighborhood where average homes are in the $180’s. In Indiana, that is a nice house. Not pools and servants, but a nice home. This does not happen here. Ours screams have people running around wondering what is happening.
My wife grabs the phone and while calling 911 runs outside just in case the car is back, boys are let out of the car, whatever. Three male neighbors jump in their cars to give chase. To be honest, they are a few of the neighbors that I do not know. Over the past few years, I have tried to meet most of the people around me, but as God would have it this day, that was who He wanted.
My wife’s 911 call has not been made public yet but we are both confident that when it is we will both be ill. She described it as a rollercoaster. Frantic as the call is connected, lucid for a few moments to give name, car info, address, event info, then screaming that they need to get her children back, back to lucid that her husband is after them, to insane. What mother would not be?!
As she is on the phone with 911, they tell her that it appears one of my sons has dialed 911 and is screaming in the background. I must tell you, this does not help my wife’s mental state. But wait, my children are calling 911? Not possible. Please remember that they are 7 and 4. No phones for them yet. How can they be calling 911?
Remember the Treo 650 info above? That phone and my Acura have something called Bluetooth technology. For those that do not know, read on. Those that do, skip to next paragraph.
Bluetooth allows you to have hands free devices. Ever seen someone walking around with one of those crazy things in their ear with the blue light blinking? Or walking along and talking into a wireless headset? Same thing. My Acura acts as a wireless connection to my phone. I can voice dial numbers or programmed names with the touch of a button as long as my phone is in the car and has paired up. Everytime the car comes on, the phone pairs. As I had started the Acura originally and had the phone in my pocket, they paired.
As I dialed 911 from the Trailblazer giving chase, another amazing thing happened. The call to 911 connected in the Acura. Bluetooth is supposed to have a range of about 30 to 35 feet. The Acura is 1/2 a mile down the road going 100 miles an hour. There is no Earthly way that can happen. It does. God is not of this Earth.
The call goes through and the person stealing the Acura hears: “911 control, what is your emergency?” This is when they must have decided that if the car is calling 911, it is time to bail because the police cannot be far behind. My sons have both been in the car many times when we have used this feature and my 7 year old starts screaming for help and that the person has stolen his dad’s car.
Back to the scene. I have now reached my sons and verified that they are ok. The 7 year old was shaken and scared. As I learned later that night, I understand why. Remember the light saber from the second paragraph? After the thief has taken the car, my son lifts his light saber by the ‘blade’, wielding it to use the heavy, much more painful if it hits you handle (trust me, I have been) as a weapon. He tells the person in the car “If you do not stop this car I am going to hit you with my light saber!” and they respond “If you do, I will shoot you.” My son tells me that he thought he did not really have a gun but when he leaned over (he was in the passenger side of the back) he could see the gun in the pocket. “That is when I decided my words were going to get me in trouble so I stopped talking to him.” God protects the children.
As my other son, a brave little 4 year old, told him it was not his car, he told them both to be quiet. Now I will tell you, I doubt it was that polite but that is how my sons tell it. They have been taught to not say bad words.
At this point in the event, people are stopping, looking, trying to decide if this is something they want to get involved in. I am jumping up and down screaming that I need help. The more people around, the sooner this is ‘safe’. A wonderful man named Perry (I think. Please understand I have enough adrenaline in me to lift a car and I just have recovered my children from the most terrifying event of our life) gets out of his car. Perry runs over and as he approaches, I start screaming for him to call 911, my kids were in a carjacking, we need police, who really knows. I also mention that I have been shot. This is when Perry looks at me a little odd.
It was great and I will never forget his tone. He was brave enough to jump out of his car and come help, unsure of what he was getting into but I am confident he did not think it was a shooting. Yet this info just made him more resolved. During the call to 911 he told them of the shooting and was helping to control me as I was pacing like a caged, wild animal and 911 is telling him to get me calm and to hold still.
The first police car, and God Bless the Marion County police department as they were there in no time, has an officer approaching from his car with his hand on his gun and a ready attitude. After getting a quick lay of the land, he is on the radio. I have no idea what he said, but as my wife later says, there are a LOT of police cars on scene.
As the ambulance from Station 112 (the best station in town if you ask me) roll up I can breathe. My boys are safe, I am ok, and this is really over. I need to call my wife. The phone is busy. Call again. Busy. Again. Busy.
Now the 112 guys are saying something about hospital and bullet and some other stuff that I was blocking out. I HAD to tell my wife we were all ok. Think……the last thing she saw was her children taken from our driveway and her crazy husband after them. She needs a bit of an update. But correctly, the guys from 112 are getting me on a stretcher and easing me to the ambulance. That is when I kind of remember I was shot.
There was anther gift from God on site that afternoon. Her name was Mary. She pulled up and was amazing as well. She asked what happened and as I was going through it, everyone else was coming up and she just did what great moms do. She mothered my children. Realizing that this was a terrible event in their young lives and obviously having kids, she knew they needed to have something else. She gave them games, talked to them about things not part of what was going on, etc.
Then, those great guys from 112 told me something I did not want to hear…..time to go. Now!
There is no way that after all of this that I am going to leave the scene until my wife is here and the darn phone is still busy. This is when Mary tells me she will call the number until my wife answers and stay with my boys until she arrives. Now I was not interested in leaving but rightly, the guys from 112 were not in the mood to negotiate. I was going to the hospital. There was no doubt I had been shot and they had a job to do. Loading me into the rig to head downtown, I was able to breathe. Finally. Deeply. Fatherly. Thankfully.
During the ride downtown I was a little wired but the guys were great. The destruction of my favorite grey shirt hurt. As I arrived at the hospital, there are about 10 people following my cart as they roll me into trauma 7. All I can think is ER and Grey’s Anatomy. All I need is a resident presenting my case and I am ready for my close up. They are all over me. Ever been naked around 7 or 8 people?? I mean other than college? Well, when you have been shot it seems like a great idea. Please make sure I am not bleeding anywhere else.
As they are looking me over, grabbing, pushing, poking, it all seems to be ok. There is not anyone yelling about a bleeder and the trauma surgeon is just standing there with his arm crossed as he asked me what happened. Note to future trauma surgeons: Look calm, it really helps.
Then some doc says he needs to check my prostate. (If you do not know what that means, ask you parents.) “Just relax.” Anyone who has ever heard that knows that what follows will not be fun.
After a thorough exam covering all 360 degrees, the doctor and I were to be engaged. It is then that I told the gang that the prostate exam hurt more than getting shot. That lightenend up the room and about 4 people that had followed my stretcher in were out of there. Stupid flesh wound. What ya gonna do, bleed on me??
Soon it is off to X-ray and back to my room. Tim, my RN, has been amazing. Need a phone, done. Need a drink, done. Need a smile, already there. He was great and in reflection, he was the first that gave me a glimpse of the scope of my event. He also was the one that was there the entire way. I think that may get overlooked sometimes. The docs come and go but Tim stayed there. Another gift from God that day.
Now things are going to get a bit weird.