Gunned down in her car while waiting for a friend to pick her up. A mother left with a bullet in her back. A child who was born months before her killer was born. Two children killed in the senseless violence.
What happened in Chicago in 2016, when 13-year-old Takiya Holmes and four of her friends were killed in a gangland killing, might be the worst news I’ve ever heard. Now I feel lucky to be alive, having been through what I did last year, while someone else, also very close to me, died in the worst manner possible. It’s like a nightmare – an unimaginable nightmare. And the worst part of it all is that I never knew what I had signed up for.
After surviving a drive-by shooting, I headed to Las Vegas with my parents and sister to head off to the end of the earth. Well, the beginning of the earth actually – Vegas, Nevada, one of the most dangerous places in the US, where there is a known firearm trail. We drove there and went straight up the freeway to a place called Eureka Valley, that wasn’t exactly anywhere we wanted to go. Suddenly, someone driving really close to us opened fire with a gun, shooting towards us – and we didn’t know what was happening at first.
But we didn’t back down, and immediately people saw us running. Our luggage was on the floor beside us and we were having to jump out of the car to get away. Thankfully, no one else was injured.
You do have that moment of hesitation, you do worry, but you are just more focused on getting help. And we were helped by the Nevada Highway Patrol. They said a member of the public called the police and that they were on their way to the scene. The police were there within five minutes, but unfortunately, just as they were arriving, the gunfire stopped – and then the lights went out.
It’s amazing that they were able to find out what had happened, because then they couldn’t do anything about it. We didn’t have any details and we couldn’t tell anyone what happened. People were still running around and I couldn’t stop. They had to come and get me, because I couldn’t see or hear anything. I’m just lucky I was not hurt badly.
I never realised the power of it all – it just exploded in my face. This was no ordinary life, but it felt like my life changed in a heartbeat, all because a one-shot gun flashed a firework on the screen. I just jumped and run away from the danger.
I’m just glad I’m alive. I’m lucky and grateful to be alive. But the worst part of it all is that I didn’t know what was happening.
I hope in the future, more attention is put on the issue. The people doing the deaths should get the help that they need. It’s the people who should be trying to stop the killings.
And I’m just lucky that this incident happened at least after an election. It couldn’t be an election year for other families now. It’s just a horrible reminder of what the world can be like at the worst time of your life.