I Was There When Ryan Giroux Went on His Mass Shooting Spree

During the Chaos Isaac Martinez Posted His Gunshot Wound on Social Media for all the World to See

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My husband and I were sitting in my truck in the high school parking lot this afternoon waiting for our son to get released from school. We were early. The bell wouldn’t ring for another 20 minutes. My mind had drifted but was brought back once I heard his voice question me. What are you thinking about?

I’m wondering what Giroux’s sentence was.

What got you thinking about that now?

It’s what I do. I catch myself thinking of all the lives I should have saved over the course of my career but couldn’t. The times I was so close but not close enough. Did I make a mistake? Did I hesitate? Were my immediate decisions wrong?

That’s the thing, there is only a second in immediate crisis intervention. It all depends on one second and I have to live with the outcome of my decision.

At the time it happened I couldn’t bear to see it in the news anymore. I was reliving it over and over. Now I want to know. For some reason I feel the need to know he got the sentence he deserved.

The last time I looked at anything in relation to him was when we watched the news video from his initial court hearing.

On March 18, 2015 Ryan Giroux shot and killed one and wounded five others. What started as a disagreement escalated into a shooting spree after killing his first victim. He ran on foot through the area where I was located.

He became desperate. I think a lot of times as a society we look for an answer. Desperation. Acts like this one are acts of desperation.

Wailing sirens shook the ground beneath my feet, panic filled the streets. The entire city block was put on lock-down. It was my role to decrease the level of mass hysteria while the police worked toward apprehending Giroux.

Isaac Martinez posted it on social media for the world to see in a moment when so many were vulnerable and in fear for their lives.

Even three years ago, this was our world. It’s been the same. The difference now is it’s escalating. Everyone is grasping for that moment of internet fame.

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I too took to social media when I got home that night. I was exhausted, angry and had yet to process the events from the day. My vulnerability was locked as private among friends.

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When it never happens to you, it’s one thing to see it on the news. You shake your head and think, what a tragedy. You’re detached. When it happens on the street, the street your standing on, the street you have to go back to tomorrow. The street where evidence remains. The street where crisis debriefings are to be held, it haunts you.

I know because it haunts me. Every day of that job still haunts me.

It’s hard to put into words the overwhelming feelings that collide with one another while your heart beats faster and louder. You want to pull yourself together but what exactly does that mean?

There’s not much else you can do when a madman clears a path of destruction, and you’ll regret it for so long while you wonder, what could I have done to prevent it?

Nothing. I couldn’t have done anything. I try to sleep at night but I can’t. People try to talk to me about it but I can’t. They think of me as the inside scoop. A horrific act somehow makes me cool.

After several hours of strategically planning, chasing while attempting to foresee his next move, SWAT cornered Giroux in a vacant apartment while helicopters flew overhead with cameras recording live on TV.

We all did our jobs that day to the best of our ability.

Later that afternoon the lock-down was lifted. There was a mix of alarm and relief. Calm followed chaos.

When I got home I hugged my children and called my husband. That night we watched the news. Maricopa set up a crisis hotline for people who felt effected by the shootings. Can a crisis line undo what’s been done?

No. Not really.

Giroux faced 23 criminal charges. I continued to do my job of protecting the community from the forces of crisis for another nine months until I submitted my resignation.

On June 10, 2016, more than a year later, Ryan Giroux pleaded guilty to all charges and was sentenced to life with an additional 83 years.

I wonder if he thinks about his crime while locked up in prison as I, and so many others do our best to forget.

Three days later I would wake to a phone call in the middle of the night. A nine year old girl was thrown from a third floor balcony. This was my job, my career and no matter how many perpetrators we got off the street. there will always be more.

Newspaper reporter in Eastern Iowa. The views expressed are mine alone.

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