I have been watching the coverage of the shootings in Colorado and I have been hearing many stories of acts of humanity happening between strangers, people diving in front of children only to be shot themselves, helping others to safety. It is truly inspiring.
And you may have heard about one of the victim's of the shooting in Aurora, Colorado, Jessica Redfield. She escaped a shooting in Toronto, only to be shot in Colorado. They mentioned on the news she had written a blog about the experience. It is touching. I have posted it here underneath the news story about her. Notice how everyone describes her Light. What a beautiful soul. Be with God Jessica.
Aurora victim Jessica Redfield escaped Toronto shooting
Hours after news broke of a mass shooting at a movie theater in Aurora, Colo., the photographs started circulating - images of a pretty, red-haired woman with a big smile on her face.
Jessica Redfield, a young sports broadcaster/blogger from Texas who was an intern at a Denver radio station, was one of the 12 people killed in the shooting. Redfield (whose given last name was Ghawi) loved hockey, writing and social media. Her brother, Jordan, confirmed her death on Twitter and his personal blog early Friday morning.
"Remember that smile and … what she could have done," Jordan Ghawi told KUSA in Denver. Ghawi said he and his parents are devastated over a shooting that seems "completely senseless at this time."
Just over a month ago, Redfield survived a shooting that killed one person on the site and left a handful of other people wounded in the Eaton Centre mall in Toronto. Redfield reflected on her near-death experience on her blog, writing, "I can't get this odd feeling out of my chest. This empty, almost sickening feeling won't go away. … It's hard for me to wrap my mind around how a weird feeling saved me from being in the middle of a deadly shooting."
She said that she chose a burger over sushi and then decided to go outside to get fresh air because she had a strange feeling. Had she not gone out, she would have been standing in the food court during the shooting.
"I was shown how fragile life was," Redfield wrote. "I saw the terror on bystanders' faces. I saw the victims of a senseless crime. I saw lives change. I was reminded that we don't know when or where our time on Earth will end. When or where we will breathe our last breath. … I say all the time that every moment we have to live our life is a blessing. So often I have found myself taking it for granted.
"Every hug from a family member. Every laugh we share with friends. Even the times of solitude are all blessings. Every second of every day is a gift. After Saturday evening, I know I truly understand how blessed I am for each second I am given."
When asked about Redfield's final blog entry, former colleague Joe Kinsey spoke slowly.
"It's hard to fathom that she experienced that and then this happened," Kinsey said, swallowing. "It's almost like she was writing about her own death. The thing to remember is she only wrote two pieces on that blog. One was the first hockey post that I ever saw and the other one was the tragedy in Toronto. It's unreal to think that that is what she left. It boggles my mind."
Kinsey, the editor-in-chief of sports/entertainment site BustedCoverage.com, said Redfield contributed to his site, writing mostly about hockey. Kinsey learned of Redfield's passing early Friday morning through social media.
"I saw somebody had retweeted a message that Jessica Ghawi had died, aspiring sportscaster," Kinsey said. "I was like, 'OK I need to look that up.' I need to see who this person was. When I did a Google search, I just couldn't believe it. I was literally shaking."
Redfield moved to Denver a year ago and had been interning for 104.3 The Fan. She was also an intern for the You Can Play Project, an LGBT organization that supported fairness and equality in the locker room. She also worked with local sports teams to donate gear to families who lost their belongings in recent wildfires, her brother and friends said.
"She knew how important it was to serve other people and make them happy," said MC/announcer Mike Lavender, who first met Redfield during the San Antonio Rampage's 2009-10 season. "If she was around, it was always a good time. There was always a smile. I've never seen her down or with her head in the sand.
"She had a good heart and a good soul, truly."
Said Jordan Ghawi: "She conveyed passion and inspired people to do great things. … She wanted to help, and that's the type of heart she had. That's the type of person she was."
Lavender describes Redfield as a young journalist destined to succeed because she excelled at networking and cared deeply about her craft. Kinsey remembers Redfield as a driven journalist who aspired to work in TV.
"There are very few times on the Internet that you come across people who are genuine," he said. "She was."
Said Lavender: "She (was) just a sports nut, not just one of those girls who pretends to like sports so that she seems cool and guys dig her. She truly loved sports, with hockey being her passion. … She was tenacious and vivacious."
Jordan Ghawi said his parents are home in San Antonio beginning their grieving process. He's trying to keep the focus on celebrating Redfield's life instead of on the suspected shooter, 24-year-old James Holmes.
"It's hard to think, seeing that face, knowing this is the person that's taken away my sister's life," Ghawi said. "Focusing on that isn't going to do me any good. It's a celebration, it's moving forward and getting on and doing something to remember my sister."
A Run On of Thoughts
Late Night Thoughts on the Eaton Center Shooting
I can’t get this odd feeling out of my chest. This empty, almost sickening feeling won’t go away. I noticed this feeling when I was in the Eaton Center in Toronto just seconds before someone opened fire in the food court. An odd feeling which led me to go outside and unknowingly out of harm‘s way. It’s hard for me to wrap my mind around how a weird feeling saved me from being in the middle of a deadly shooting.
What started off as a trip to the mall to get sushi and shop, ended up as a day that has forever changed my life. I was on a mission to eat sushi that day, and when I’m on a mission, nothing will deter me. When I arrived at the Eaton Center mall, I walked down to the food court and spotted a sushi restaurant. Instead of walking in, sitting down and enjoying sushi, I changed my mind, which is very unlike me, and decided that a greasy burger and poutine would do the trick. I rushed through my dinner. I found out after seeing a map of the scene, that minutes later a man was standing in the same spot I just ate at and opened fire in the food court full of people. Had I had sushi, I would’ve been in the same place where one of the victims was found.
My receipt shows my purchase was made at 6:20 pm. After that purchase I said I felt funny. It wasn’t the kind of funny you feel after spending money you know you shouldn’t have spent. It was almost a panicky feeling that left my chest feeling like something was missing. A feeling that was overwhelming enough to lead me to head outside in the rain to get fresh air instead of continuing back into the food court to go shopping at SportChek. The gunshots rung out at 6:23. Had I not gone outside, I would’ve been in the midst of gunfire.
I walked around the outside of the mall. People started funneling out of every exit. When I got back to the front, I saw a police car, an ambulance, and a fire truck. I initially thought that maybe the street performer that was drumming there earlier had a heart attack or something. But more and more police officers, ambulances, and fire trucks started showing up. Something terrible has happened. I overheard a panicked guy say, “There was a shooting in the food court.” I thought that there was no way, I was just down there. I asked him what happened. He said “Some guy just opened fire. Shot about 8 shots. It sounded like balloons popping. The guy is still on the loose.” I’m not sure what made me stick around at this point instead of running as far away from the mall as possible. Shock? Curiosity? Human nature? Who knows.
Standing there in the midst of the chaos all around us, police started yelling to get back and make room. I saw a young shirtless boy, writhing on a stretcher, with his face and head covered by the EMS as they rushed him by us to get him into an ambulance. The moment was surprisingly calm. The EMTs helping the boy weren’t yelling orders and no one was screaming like a night time medical drama. It was as if it was one swift movement to get the boy out of the mall and into the ambulance. That’s when it really hit me. I felt nauseas. Who would go into a mall full of thousands of innocent people and open fire? Is this really the world we live in?
Police start yelling again “GET BACK NOW!” Another stretcher came rushing out of the mall. I saw a man on a stretcher, the blanket underneath him spotted with blood. Multiple gunshot holes in his chest, side, and neck were visible. It’s not like in the movies when you see someone shot and they’re bleeding continuously from the wound. There was no blood flowing from the wounds, I could only see the holes. Numerous gaping holes, as if his skin was putty and someone stuck their finger in it. Except these wounds were caused by bullets. Bullets shot out of hatred. His dark skin on his torso was tinted red with what I assume was his own blood. He was rushed into the ambulance and taken away.
More people joined the crowd at the scene and asked what happened. “There was a shooting in the food court,” kept being whispered through the crowd like a game of telephone. I was standing near a security guard when I heard him say over his walkie talkie, “One fatality.” At this point I was convinced I was going to throw up. I’m not an EMT or a police officer. I’m not trained to handle crime and murder. Gun crimes are fairly common where I grew up in Texas, but I never imagined I’d experience a violent crime first hand. I’m on vacation and wanted to eat and go shopping. Everyone else at the mall probably wanted the same thing. I doubt anyone left for the mall imagined they witness a shooting.
I was shown how fragile life was on Saturday. I saw the terror on bystanders’ faces. I saw the victims of a senseless crime. I saw lives change. I was reminded that we don’t know when or where our time on Earth will end. When or where we will breathe our last breath. For one man, it was in the middle of a busy food court on a Saturday evening.
I say all the time that every moment we have to live our life is a blessing. So often I have found myself taking it for granted. Every hug from a family member. Every laugh we share with friends. Even the times of solitude are all blessings. Every second of every day is a gift. After Saturday evening, I know I truly understand how blessed I am for each second I am given.
I feel like I am overreacting about what I experienced. But I can’t help but be thankful for whatever caused me to make the choices that I made that day. My mind keeps replaying what I saw over in my head. I hope the victims make a full recovery. I wish I could shake this odd feeling from my chest. The feeling that’s reminding me how blessed I am. The same feeling that made me leave the Eaton Center. The feeling that may have potentially saved my life.