Not everyone declined to offer aid at chaotic shooting scene

I am writing this in response to the letter that Dr. Roland Kohr wrote (Readers’ Forum, Sept. 2, “A disturbing disregard for value of life”) regarding the shooting in the Kroger parking lot. I am writing this, anonymously, not for personal vindication, but to hopefully reach the family and friends of the deceased. I wish to let them know that their loved one was not left to die on hot pavement alone, while bystanders filmed. I wish to let them know that someone cared, I cared. This is my firsthand story:

It was a normal afternoon. I had placed an online order for groceries the night before and when I left work, I drove to Kroger to pick up my order. I pulled into a pickup spot and called Kroger to let them know that I had arrived. While I was on the phone, I saw a disruption in my peripheral. I had parked just two cars away from where the shooting took place. 

I heard two gun shots and then chaos erupted. I could see bystanders gathering and on their phones. I saw a young mother in the car next to me calling 911. She looked familiar, our kids were on the same soccer team last year and her husband was the coach. I quickly checked on her. The panic on her face was troubling. She said, “He has been shot!!” 

I fumbled around in my purse for a mask and I got out of my car. I stopped briefly at the car of the young mother parked between me and the shooting. I wanted to make sure she was OK and that her kids were not in the car with her. Then I ran to the scene. My husband would later ask me what I was thinking running into a scene like that. My response was that I didn’t think, I just ran. 

When I approached, there was a man lying face down, in a fetal position, on the ground. I did not see blood on him or on the ground around him. I had no idea where his wounds were. I noticed immediately that he was breathing, although his breathing appeared labored. I put my hand on his back and I asked him to speak to me. I felt his pulse. He did not speak. I asked his name and I continued to try to get a response from him, my hand touching his back. 

Still not seeing any blood and able to now hear the sirens of quickly approaching first-responders, I told another man that had knelt beside me that this man is breathing, and I can hear the sirens are close and it is likely best that we do not move him. Not even a second later another man approached us and put his hand on the victim. I looked up to realize it was a police officer. I quickly attempted to get out of his way. I did not want to disrupt a crime scene investigation. 

It was in that moment that I realized the man that had knelt beside me was the shooter and that he had not tried to flee the scene, but had stuck around, called 911, and had tried to offer me assistance in helping the man he had just shot. 

In the weeks since this incident I have been filled with deep regret that I walked away from the man on the ground when the first officer arrived. I wish that I would have stayed with him, prayed for him, and continued to assess his breathing and pulse. I did give my statement to a state police officer. I am saddened that the misinformation that no one assisted the dying man was relayed to Dr. Kohr, prompting him to write what he wrote.

I want the deceased’s family to know that I continue to pray for them and their lost loved one. I wanted to reach out to them sooner and did not know how. I pray that this letter reaches them and that they feel a sense of comfort from my words. I pray that if I am ever faced with this traumatic situation again that I will not walk away, that I will stay and be bold. 

The events of that afternoon are ever-present in my mind, and I don’t believe that I will soon forget the sadness that I felt hours later, at home, when I read that the man that I had ran to assist had died. It is a hard thing knowing that mine was very possibly one of the last voices that man heard. 

I want this man’s family and friends to know that, while I too felt the outrage that Dr. Kohr described of the people filming a man’s death, I did run to his aid. I did care and I did show him a small amount of love and kindness in his final moments.

Sincerely and with love ...

— A bystander that DID care (Name withheld by request of the author)

 Editor’s note: It is the longtime practice of the Tribune-Star to require names of letter writers to appear with their published letters. An exception was made in this case because of the sensitive nature of the event being discussed and the wishes of the writer to remain unidentified publicly as a witness to the incident. Law enforcement officials who investigated the fatal confrontation found the shooting to have been in self-defense. No charges were filed.

Catholics need not vote by single issue

I intend this letter to be a helpful message for all Catholics and other Christians who feel like they are obliged to vote for certain candidates because of one moral issue, even in spite of their overwhelming concern for the risk to other life issues. As an editorial in the August, 2020, America magazine stated, “many Catholics are incorrectly convinced that no vote for a candidate who supports legal abortion can ever be justified, while any vote for a candidate who will appoint justices who may overturn Roe, no matter what other issues are in play, is obligatory. Such tunnel-vision played a significant and perhaps decisive role in the 2016 presidential election.”

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops provides for us a remedy for that faulty reasoning. “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship” is a document to give Catholic voters an opportunity to reflect upon how their faith intersects with their political and civic responsibilities. It does not mandate which candidate for public office to vote for. There is no “Catholic vote”. It is a guide to help us weigh issues in the light of the Gospel values of our faith. 

Archbishop Coakley, chairman of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, states, “The Gospel calls us to live by standards and our Catholic faith calls us to embrace standards that are not divisible into right or left, Republican or Democrat terminology.”

At this time we face many threats to human dignity and the common good. Although abortion remains our pre-eminent priority, voting in hope for the appointment of the right judge to the Supreme Court has not proven very effective and is not the only means to be pro-life. We are reminded that we cannot ignore other serious threats to life such as racism, the environmental crisis, poverty, the plight of refugees, militarism and the death penalty.

Let us pray for a fair and just election on Nov. 3 and whatever the outcome, let us unite bearing the love and peace of Jesus Christ to our world. Let us remain active citizens going beyond casting a ballot, to advocate for the common good at every opportunity.

— Kathleen Barnett, Terre Haute

Thankful for a variety of views

I second Mr. and Mrs. Martin’s views that were printed in Saturday’s Opinion section. They, as I, value and appreciate this newspaper. It provides an important link to the local community.

I also like the fact that this newspaper isn’t propaganda, for or against, a single political view. In Saturday’s paper, viewpoints both supporting and criticizing President Trump were printed in the Opinion section. I happen to support President Trump’s policies, but I realize that many don’t.

One thing that separates a free country like ours from a country like China is freedom of speech and of the press. It is easy to take that fact for granted, but in many countries, those freedoms don’t exist.

That is why the teaching of history in school is so important, to allow future generations of Americans to realize how lucky they are to have such freedoms.

— Jim Stitt, Terre Haute

Where are you on Trump comments?

Fox News national security correspondent Jennifer Griffin confirmed reporting published by The Atlantic on Thursday that Trump had said soldiers who died in war were “suckers” and “losers.” 

According to Griffin’s sources, one of whom she said was a former Trump administration official, “The president would say about American veterans, ‘What’s in it for them? They don’t make any money.’”

As deep-in-denial Trump supporters will say: “Ah, so what, that’s just the way he talks and tweets.”

As thinking Republicans say: “Uh huh, that does it for me.”

— Gary Daily, Terre Haute

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The Tribune-Star is committed to publishing a diversity of opinions from readers in its Readers’ Forum. We’d like to hear what you think on any issue. Email us at opinion@tribstar.com.

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