I'm a Maritimer, which means I'm great at handling massive snowstorms that shut cities down. But a gunman on the loose, in the woods near our Moncton home? Yeah, that's not exactly something we small-town kids grew up learning about.
I was a reporter for years and covered horrific and terrifying things that people should never see. Images that haunt me to this day. But go figure -- none of it prepared me for the feeling of crawling on all fours in the dark, holding onto the back of my husband's shirt, down to the basement. To hide. Planning an escape route if the very-real bogeyman came through our door. It was then that my veneer of "I was a reporter once. I'm tough" wore off. And I started to shake with fear.
My husband and I live just a few streets outside the lockdown perimeter where a dangerous gunman is being hunted. A gunman who has killed three RCMP officers and terrorized my city; a city known for its friendliness, trust, and for people who still have to be reminded to lock their homes at night.
The police chopper has been circling the area over our house since last night. All night and throughout the day. And we have thick woods behind the house. Bordering the perimeter. So yeah, this isn't just a news story anymore or something to track on social media. This is real life and three brave officers were killed last night trying to protect families like mine from a gunman.
Monctonians are good people. We give people the shirt off our back. We listen when the RCMP say to stay indoors. We check on our neighbours and friends. And we all feel that creepy chills on the spine feeling knowing that he was in OUR neighbourhoods, by OUR Costco (it's the city's shopping mecca, after all!) and hurting OUR police.
Because in Moncton, we have at most three degrees of separation. We all know a cop, a reporter, the mayor, the lady who runs the local gluten-free shop, the pizza guy.
I left the world of journalism and the big city to get away from this very thing. It was with pride that I told my former colleagues that I was going back to a life in New Brunswick where I would be able to have supper every night with my family and live a quiet and peaceful life with people who like to laugh and relax.
I refuse to let him take that from me. I won't name him. He doesn't deserve to have his name martyred when he goes out. Let's remember and then honour the names of the officers who were killed instead, once they are revealed.
When we were kids, Mom's biggest lesson for us to feel safe in the world was to trust our instincts. She said simply, "If it feels wrong, then it is wrong, so tell someone you trust." The same goes today. If there is something about someone that creeps you out, that just feels "off," then dare yourself against any potential embarrassment of being wrong. This guy was a walking red flag. Many, many people knew it. If it feels wrong, it is wrong. So let's all empower each other to reach out to the authorities in the future.
And yet, despite feeling fear, anxiety and nerves wracked with an indescribable exhaustion, we stand strong. He will NOT defeat our collective spirit of trusting each other, looking after each other and now, helping each other to heal.
My heart aches for the collective grief my city is experiencing but I am sending it so much love and light. Because the light always pushes the darkness out of the shadows. They will get the darkness. Because nobody puts Moncton in a corner.
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