I heard a series of loud pops. I thought neighbor kids had set off a string of big firecrackers in the open dirt field across our north fence, over towards the theater. Ten minutes later, the dog started howling out on the deck, as siren after siren went by on the highway two blocks below. My first thought, especially this time of year, was a wildfire someplace. But a quick scan around the horizon showed no sign of smoke. With the sirens still coming up from the south, I looked and realized all of them were fire station paramedic vehicles - lots of them.
So many emergency medical care vehicles. "Do you think there was a school bus accident?" I asked Aries, as we stood out on our deck, looking down towards the highway. The first CareFlight helicopter showed up overhead, then swung around to set down just beyond the Marriott below us, in the parking area across the highway. That's when I went inside to check the news on the internet.
Multiple people shot at the International House of Pancakes. That wasn't firecrackers I heard - that was automatic weapon fire. This is the kind of thing I thought you only read about, someplace else. Is it really happening right down the street?
Sadly enough, it was. Four people dead, seven more injured, plus the shooter a suicide out in the parking lot. Many of the dead and injured, inside the IHOP, were uniformed Nevada National Guard personnel.
The upcoming tenth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorism had many questioning if the military were the target, if this was a terrorist act . Federal, state, and local governments, as well as our local National Guard facility have heightened already increased security. Although the investigation is on-going, it appears to have been the work of just a solitary mentally ill person. No one can say why he did it. Our community is grieving, and in shock.
Like a genteel dinner guest of old, I don't discuss politics or religion on this blog. I respect the rights of others to hold opinions different from my own, and realize that anything I say here isn't likely to change anyone's ideas. And I respect the rights of gun owners. I come from a family of hunters. I've been through the Hunter's Safety class. We own rifles, shotguns, and a handgun, and I know how to use them. But I really don't understand why we as a nation still think it's ok for a mentally ill person (or anyone, really) to have multiple automatic weapons in his possession; the ability to empty a 30-round clip in a 360º sweep of a parking lot, pause to reload, and then walk into a crowded restaurant. Our community is grieving, and in shock. And the tragedy is in our nation.