Vendetta leaves a trail of terror behind for those who have lived through it, and some have decided it is time to speak up, to try and stop the cycle. One grandmother offered to tell her tale, after seeing her family shot at and one family member killed before her eyes and the eyes of her grandchildren.
“The shooter started to rain bullets upon the home from outside before he stepped inside the door to finish the job,” she said.
She remembers confronting the killer.
“He did nothing to hide his face. He didn’t care that I was watching him. He didn’t care if I saw,” she said.
For her, the incident is recalled as a series of split- second images: her son-in-law lying on the floor bleeding, clutching at his chest, blood seeping between his fingers. She remembers the light fading from his eyes and knowing that he was gone.
She also recollects the scent of gunpowder. “The whole house smelled like fireworks.”
Memory also comes as snippets of sound: the sound of people screaming which she eventually realized was the sound of her own screams, the sound of him choking on his own blood.
One sound is burned indelibly upon her brain, the slap of her bare feet against the wooden floor as she ran to scoop up the children and take them from harm’s way and her breath harsh in her throat as she ran to escape.
“I knew he was dead. I couldn’t help him, but I got my babies out before they were hurt.”
The grandmother has no doubt that this was an act of revenge. It was callous and premeditated. The killer ignored her as he left the home to catch a ride he had already arranged.
“He didn’t care about the children. He could have killed them, but he just kept on shooting.”
Bare feet pattering across the floor, she raced to get the children out of the house, fearful that the shooter might return.
She carried them past their father. The grandmother remains haunted by this, racked by guilt.
“I didn’t cover their eyes.” She weeps. “I should have covered their eyes. They did not need to see their father there bleeding to death on the floor, but all I could do was try to get them out of the house before they were shot.”
She admits to anger, not only against the killer, but against her neighbors.
“There were 15 shots. You can’t tell me that no one looked out the window. There are people out there who know things. People who saw something.
“The police are looking for witnesses, but people are afraid to testify. The police are trying to solve crimes, this and others, but people won’t speak up.”
The grandchildren are going through counseling. One has developed behavioral problems at school and anger issues.
One was only a few days old at the time of the shooting and will never remember the father.
“They wake up every day without their daddy and don’t understand why. How do you explain it to them?”
Meanwhile, the sound of her own footsteps across the floor will always act as a haunting reminder about the horrors of that day.