5th Anniversary of ‘Kalamazoo Shootings’ Still Brings Shock
Five years. It doesn't seem possible it's been five years. The unthinkable happened five years ago. February 20th, 2016. Jason Dalton killed six people, injured two others. For his crime, Dalton will spend the rest of his life in prison. We now know this horrible night simply as the Kalamazoo Shootings.
An eerily detailed story in Esquire Magazine described the events of that night.
Tiana Carruthers, the first woman Dalton shot, used her body to shield her daughter and five other children by playing dead, and this act of heroism kept the children alive and saw her being nominated for a Congressional Medal of Honor.
Looking back, the whole night is still surreal. It made me realize how paper thin the difference is between tragedy and, how do you put it, normal life. A father and son simply stopping to look at cars at a car dealership after hours. How many of us have done that. Or, the more common act of simply going out to have a meal with friends and family, and sitting in the parking lot for a few minutes afterwards.
Being in the wrong place and the wrong time is too simple. But reading over the events of that night five years ago does reinforce the sheer randomness of Dalton's killing spree.
I live across G Avenue from where the first shooting happened to Tiana Carruthers. I drove past the entrance to the complex across the road sometime close to the time Dalton began the shootings. What if Dalton had turned right rather than left?
Our blended family was gathering for birthday celebration Saturday night, coming from Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo. We went to a popular pizza restaurant on Stadium Drive. What if Dalton had not chosen to drive all the way to 9th Street? Driving home on Stadium Drive, just after 10pm, we saw three squad cars, lights flashing, fly past us heading to the dealership. Dalton was picked up a block from Bell's Eccentric Cafe, and maybe two blocks from Louie's. A lot of people, myself included, frequent both those popular spots.
The Kalamazoo Shootings shocked us. Suddenly, we were like too many other communities that had experienced similar tragedies. No longer could we say "that can't happen here." It can. And it did. Can it happen again. I simply pray it doesn't.