This post is a direct follow up to my previous post
The blood on my hand, so I suggest you start there if you haven’t read that.
It’s been a bit over two weeks since Tarique Leger lost his life after he was shot leaving the Flatbook unit in our building, becoming Ottawa’s ninth murder of 2016.
One thing that we’d like to be clear about; neither of us considers what we did “courageous”, “heroic”, “worthy of a medal” or anything remotely like that; as some people have suggested to us. There are people who deal with this level of tragedy day in and day out – for years; the police, paramedics, firefighters, emergency room doctors, the 911 dispatchers – they’re a massive team of people who work to keep us safe and help us when our lives are at their worst, and they suffer greatly for it. Those people are heroes.
We did what we thought was the right thing to do; what we’d like to think that others would have done if they’d been in our place.
I’ve said it to a few people; one of the worst things that could have happened to me is if I had done nothing – then the mental repercussions of not having tried; not done anything; that would have been horrible. We tried. We did our best, and eventually I’ll be okay with that.
If you are the kind of person to turn away, I’d like you to take a few minutes in a quiet place and reflect on that. What if it was you? Wouldn’t you want someone to come out and help you? Then you should do the same, because someday, it might *be* you.
Don’t have confidence in your first aid training? Take a refresher. Even if you don’t have any training, the 911 dispatcher will walk you through step by step until help arrives.
Tracey and I have received a wonderful outpouring of support from friends, family and strangers. Thank you all – it’s meant the world to us both. Some of your comments have literally moved me to tears (the good kind, that make you feel loved).
Many have suggested we seek post-trauma counselling; I’ve never been good at talking about things with strangers – I tend to internalize everything, analyze it myself, and deal with it.
Honestly, Tracey and I will be fine. If for any reason we are not, we have each other, our friends, and the ability to reach out for support if we think there is a need.
The Tuesday afterwards, I left home to meet a client, and came upon people gathered out front of our place; Tarique’s sister and friends. I spent about twenty minutes with them answering heart-breaking questions before I had to head off for a meeting. As I left, I handed them my card, told them if they needed anything to let me know.
Shortly after my meeting wrapped up, Tarique’s father called me to thank Tracey and I for our efforts. I’d planned to spend the rest of the day working at “my office”, but packed up and went home. I arrived, spoke at length with Tarique’s parents – and my heart broke again; they’re the ones who are really suffering – they lost their son, and they don’t know who or why.
Talking with them and Tarique’s friends reminded me of how differently white people and black people see the police, how they’re treated, how the general public understands the machinations of a major investigation, and how it might be possible to improve communication for all involved. I did my best to explain what I understand to be the process, which I think helped, but… I’m going to have to think about this a bit more before I send off the email the Ottawa Police Service about that.
They left flowers and candles; it will be a long time – if ever – before I can walk out of the place and not think of Tarique, his father, mother, sister, and friends I met that day, the dead connecting the living.
We finally managed to get our follow-up video interviews scheduled early Friday morning (eight in the morning is really, really early for me). We went down to the police station, met with the detective and were interviewed separately, which is about the extent of our official involvement in the investigation unless there is a trial, in which case one or both of us may be called upon to testify.
I’ve received a fair number of questions since the post, so I thought I’d gather them up and get them out of the way in one bunch.
Do we feel less safe now?
No. We’ve lived in the neighbourhood for going on twenty years, and the character of the area hasn’t changed; if anything I think it’s gotten safer. That said, I did have a conversation with the owner of FlatBook about improving safety and security of their bookings.
How fast were the police there?
I checked my phone log today; the 911 call duration was seven minutes. I’d estimate the first officer arrived in four minutes or less.The call ended (I believe) once I had been relieved by the police officer.
Why didn’t you just stay in your place where it was safe?
Technically we both violated the first rule of first responders; make sure the scene is safe. In the scheme of things, I think it was the correct decision.
Has this changed your position on gun control?
No. I’ve been in favour of restricting access to firearms greatly, registering every existing weapon, and requiring extensive background checks & training for a long time. Tarique’s murder reaffirmed to me that my position is correct.
A few of you have made reasonable arguments that I should seek to publish the original post more widely to help increase awareness of the impact of gun violence on our society. It’s the Internet; isn’t that wide enough? I am considering revoking my “no reporters” statement. We’ll see where this leads.
I received a couple of questions about “the gory details”.