I’m not going to make more of this than it was. Still, it was a bit alarming to have an employee burst into our downtown-Penticton meeting Monday morning and announce an active shooting event somewhere down the block.
The six or seven of us gathered in the room sat in shock for a few moments and then we all turned to our smartphones for Twitter updates.
We were on lockdown — ordered to remain indoors until the situation was resolved.
Later, we would learn four people were dead and a gunman had turned himself into Penticton RCMP.
His travel would have taken him right under our noses as he passed by in his vehicle.
A human drama of epic proportions had just played out but for the most part we had no idea what was going on. We hadn’t really heard anything. We certainly didn’t see anything.
We did what most others would do in the same situation: we went back to our work, occasionally checking for updates and perhaps listening for strange sounds — just in case — a little bit concerned but largely unaffected.
I tried to call my wife, Tracey, to let her know I was OK and safe. I got voicemail — she being a million miles away from what was going on even though the events taking place were less than 60 km from home.
She wouldn’t know of the shooting until I finally left Penticton around 1 p.m. and headed for home. Of course, by then there were other things to look after and after a very quick session of storytelling, we moved on.
It wasn’t until later that I thought about the four others who wouldn’t be moving on, those who had lost their lives to a gunman. I reflected on another shooting episode a day earlier in Salmon Arm — three, maybe four, hours away — and two more lives lost to senseless violence.
And I wondered why I was not more alarmed.
We live in a country where substantial gun safeguards are in place to protect our population. Our national intentional homicide rate is just 1.79 per 100,000 people — the US is at 4.90. And although we’re pestered by property crime, we largely don’t give much thought to becoming a victim of some other violent action.
Heck, we had a collective cow when our very popular homeless person suffered cuts and bruises from an overnight assault.
And yet, it seems, geographically the direction of violence was heading closer to my door, my community. Fate seemed to be suggesting it just a matter of time until something similar happened here.
Was it possible the relentless, endless media accountings of mass shootings — either random or targeted — simply, maybe unconsciously, had brought me (us) to a state of acceptance?
Do we all now suffer from a similar apprehension — that inevitably gun violence will directly touch our lives?
I’m not sure what the answer is — I’m still working on that — but I do know I’ll be a little more cautious this morning than I was yesterday morning.
I’ll probably take a closer look at my surroundings before proceeding. I’ll check doorways and watch people — even you — and whenever someone comes into my shop, I’ll size them up.
I’ll do what most others would do in the same situation: I’ll go back to my life — a little bit concerned but largely unaffected.
But not completely unaffected. And not completely unalarmed.