“I just want you guys to know that there is a shooter outside of the park and I am outside. I love you guys if anything happens to me.”
This was the text message my parents received from me on the night that changed my life for the worse and for the better.
I interned this past summer in Washington, D.C. It was, without hesitation, the best summer of my life. On July 17, I went with four of my roommates to the Nationals baseball game. One of my roommate’s moms got us amazing seats behind first base through the company she works for.
We attended one Nationals game before this one and we were so excited to go to another one.
At the bottom of the sixth inning, two of my roommates and I decide to go get some snacks. The other two roommates stay at the seats.
I go with one of my roommates to the line for Dip ‘N Dots and my other roommate goes to a different line for soft serve. I get mine first and I tell my roommate I am going back to our seats, because we are really close to them.
I am walking back to our seats and people are frantically running. Nobody is saying anything, everybody is just running as fast as they can. I can sense that something is really wrong. I make the quick decision to exit the stadium, because I am standing near an exit.
As soon as I get outside the exit, I call my roommate who is in the soft serve line. I tell her I don’t know what is going on but she must get out of there immediately. As I am on the phone with her, gun shots ring out. She says, “oh my gosh, oh my gosh,” and then the call drops.
At this point I am so disoriented. I don’t know where I am, where to go, or what is happening to any of my roommates. I see some people hiding in a corner and I hide with them. As a group we make the decision to hide with some other people behind a wall.
Gun shots are still being fired every few minutes, we’re hiding and trying to think what our next move is.
People are running in huge group and it truly looks like a scene from a movie. It felt like an eternity alternating between gunshots and silence. Eventually authorities came and found us and gave us the all clear to leave.
The worst was finally over. I reunited with all my roommates and we headed back to our apartment.
According to D.C. police, this was ultimately just an altercation between two people and only three people were injured. Thankfully, nobody died.
The people I was hiding with were complete strangers to me. Yet in that moment we were all willing to do whatever we could to protect each other. No political parties, no hate, just kindness and compassion.
At one point we were all hiding behind the wall and I was praying out loud. We were in such an exposed area; I was truly fearing for my life.
A girl hiding next to me was sobbing uncontrollably. She recognized I was alone and reached out and grabbed my hand. She was clearly not OK, yet she was trying to comfort me.
A woman in my group came up to me and offered me a ride to wherever I needed to go after we were told we could leave.
Although this was a very traumatic situation, my faith in humanity was restored. Every single day I feel like I watch the world grow farther apart. Yet on this night, that group of people I was hiding with couldn’t have been closer.
I still jump at loud noises in crowded places, and hearing gunfire on TV shows or movies still makes my heart race. However, whenever I think back on that night, I can’t be naive to all the good that came out of it too.
One of my roommates described it best.
“The terror and trauma from the shooting is something I will carry with me for the rest of my life,” Annalese Cahill said. “However, in the days and weeks after, I found comfort while thinking of the strangers who put their safety on the line to help me.”
I pray you never find yourself in a situation like this but I do hope you choose to seek the good out of every tragic situation life throws your way.