Wednesday, July 27, 2011

SWAT Needed My Backyard

Your backyard is supposed to be safe. A haven where you children play, wrestle, get sunburned, play on a slip-n-slide, and explore bugs. That is normally the case for us. But yesterday at 4:05pm, that all changed.

At 4:05 pm, there is a knock at my door. I open it, and stands a police officer. Behind him, I can see a barricade of 6 or 7 other police vehicles, other officers crocheted behind walls, and some on walkie talkies.

We had the following conversation:

Officer: Hi Ma'am. Do you have children?

Me: Yes, I do.

Officer: Are they home?

Me: Yes, they are.

Officer: I would like to ask you to close your shades in the back of your house, and move to the front two bedrooms of your house with your children. Please do not come out until I come back to your door and tell you it is safe to do so. I will be in your backyard, as will a couple of other officers, and I don't want you to be alarmed.

Me: Alright. Thank you. (Really? That's all I had to say?!)

So what do I do? I gather my children, with thoughts of armed robbers escaping through our backyard to get to the road. Thankfully, all of the toys are in the front two bedrooms, so we had a great time playing.

At 4:15, the doorbell rings. I answer it, and it is a different police officer.

Officer: I understand you talked to another officer a few minutes ago. Has anyone briefed you on the situation?

Me: No, we just moved to the front of the house. May I ask what is going on?

Officer: We have a suicidal man who has shot a male occupant in the house behind yours. Your backyards bump up next to one another. SWAT needs access to your backyard, and we would like you to evacuate your house, within the next 5 minutes. May I have your cell phone number so I can call you when the situation is resolved? It could be 10 minutes, it could be tomorrow morning. We just don't know.

NOTE: The house where all of this is taking place is in the photo.

NOTE 2: It turns out that the suicidal man did not shoot another male occupant, but rather was holding his wife hostage.

Me: Yes, absolutely. My number is -------. Please be safe.

Officer: Thank you for your understanding. Hopefully, I will talk to you soon.

HOLY CRAP. So I scoop up my kids and take off. I didn't grab ANYTHING. I had an extra diaper in my purse, and sippy cups in hand, and that's it. I was only concerned with getting myself and my children out of my home as quickly and safely as possible, without alarming them.

I left. Prayed that things would be alright, and then realized I didn't have anywhere to go.

I called my sister who thankfully said we could come hang out there, eat dinner there, bathe there, and even spend the night if need be. That's where we went!

My friend, Wendy, texted me a few times, and this is what she said:

5:52pm: Two trucks of SWAT just unloaded in front of your house and most of the neighborhood is blocked off right now! It might be a long night!

6:22 pm: There are at least 18 SWAT team cars parked on the street. This is just crazy!

At 6:45, I got a phone call from the officer.

Officer: The situation is under control, and you will be able to go home soon. Right now, there are officers blocking your house, and it will be about an hour before you can go in. However, in an hour, we should be cleared out of your backyard, your driveway, and you can come home.

Me: Thank you so much for the contact. Are you guys alright?

Officer: I am fine, and all of our teams are fine. The threat, however, is not fine.

NOTE 3: It turns out that the man shot himself and died at the hospital last night.

Me: I understand, and I appreciate all of your help. Thank you.

We swam at my parents' house for a while, and then headed home around 8. When we got home, there were still SWAT armored trucks around, police everywhere, and men in button-up shirts and ties. I assume those men were administration, FBI, or other suited men.

Jared and I fell asleep in two seconds. We were so emotionally exhausted from the entire day. Now, as I reflect back, I feel we were cradled in the arms of angels. Here are some of the blessings that I realized had happened:

1. When I escorted my children to the "safe" rooms in the house, and then escorted them out to the car, there was not ONE word of complaint or argument. They did as I asked, and happily did so.
2. I have so many friends and family where I could have gone. I wasn't alone, and would have had everything I needed if I had to stay the night at someone's house.
3. We are all safe. This actually should be #1.
4. We are protected by such brave men and women who are willing to risk their lives to save others.
5. We are fortunate to have a 2nd car, that had gas, and I had the ability to leave in a matter of minutes.
6. Jared needed to work late, so it was nice that he got to stay and get ahead on his work!

I don't have any photos from the incident, but a friend's husband witnessed it all and might have taken some pictures on his phone. If I can get a hold of any, I will update with the pictures.

To be honest, it was nice being away from it all. It would have been really scary to have remained in the house while SWAT was in our backyard. I love my children, and I still love my neighborhood. This just goes to show you that this kind of thing can happen even in the safest of neighborhoods. Things couldn't have turned out better, and I am grateful for the experience. I do, however, hope that I never have to hear these words ever again: "SWAT needs your backyard."


Carlie said...

amber, this is bananas! it is strange to think they said you could be in the front 2 rooms. i would think with potential gunfire, they would want you totally out of the house! which, i suppose, is what happened. of course you know, you are able to stop in here at ANY time!

Jessica said...

OK, this is just nuts!!! I can't believe it! I also can't believe that they didn't make more people evacuate around you too! So glad you guys were safe! Aaron told me you talked to Jared tonight. Sorry I missed chatting with you! We'll have to talk soon! :) Love ya!

Amy said...

CRAZY!!!! Wow...what a blessing that you guys are safe and that things worked out the way they did!

Brianna said...

I am so glad that you were safe and protected! We had a similar incident happen to us when we lived in an apartment. (Before I had a blog). We were told to get down and away from any windows, and to try to make it appear as if no one was home until they cleared the area. (Apparently, since it was right outside our front door, they didn't want to have us go out for fear something would happen then.) My husband was at work, and I had a 2 year old and a newborn. It was scary, but we too were blessed with the protection we needed at the time! I am so glad you are all okay! And for future reference, you are always welcome over here. Anytime! :)

Jasmine said...

Scary! Well, if you want to move to Rancho Sahuarita there is a great house right next door to ours up for a short sale and its 500 sq ft bigger than ours! :)

Karen said...

Wow, so glad you are safe. What a day!

Emily said...

Wow! How scary! You always think things like that happen in other peoples neighborhoods not your own. I am glad you are all safe.