Sometimes in life, we get thrown into situations we never thought we would be in. It was a casual Thursday night in State College. No one would have thought an active shooter was nearby.
I was hanging out with my roommates and neighbors, laughing, smiling, and enjoying ourselves. Suddenly, the text messages start.
"I just heard there was a shooter at The Retreat!"
"There is an active shooter out on the loose omg!!!!"
"Someone got killed at a bar, but idk which one"
"I heard there was an accident and shooting by your apartment"
"The shooter is running through our complex"
"What is going on? This is F***ing State College"
Text after text. Rumor after rumor. We had NO clue what was going on, who the shooter was, or where he even was.
Minutes were passing by and we were unsure of how to feel. Was it a rumor? Was it true?
Finally, updates were coming live on television and Twitter. "One woman was killed and another was flown to the hospital following a shooting at the Ramada Hotel in State College."
At this moment, it became surreal. I never thought I would be in the situation in life where there was an active shooter around me. After hearing about all the shootings within the past few years in schools all over the world, you never think it will happen to you. In Happy Valley, I never expected to be 2 minutes away from a serious crime scene. This man was violent.
As we sat there waiting for updates, I thought in my mind about my family and loved ones. I thought to myself, what if I happened to be in the bar? What if I was driving that way to get a snack? What if I was walking to my car from the restaurant next door?
This really showed me what they always say, "You never know what could happen in life."
This situation was very scary because this man was actively shooting. He operated his vehicle after killing the people initially in the bar at the hotel. His vehicle was crashed on our street. He then broke into a home and killed another male, just 3 minutes away from our apartment complex.
Eagerly we all sat around watching the live news and checking our Twitter updates to hear that he was pronounced dead. At that moment, we finally felt at ease.
The life lessons that were learned in this situation are once in a lifetime. I truly believe this situation gave me a different outlook on life. Being in a danger zone with a man who has complete power over you is one of those feelings you do not wish upon anyone.
The feeling of someone being shot innocently 2 minutes away from you is a queasy feeling. What if it was yourself?
My heart goes out to the family of the loved ones who were killed. My heart goes out to the friends of the loved ones who were killed. My heart goes out to the people in the restaurant who had to fear their life while trying to enjoy a night out. This world is an unpredictable place.
So tonight, I ask you to hold your loved ones close and tell them you love them. No matter where they are, anything can happen at any time.