You probably heard about the Toys R Us shooting that left 2 men dead on Black Friday. If not, check out this local Palm Spring news channel's website for the latest videos & stories:
The thing is: Chad, Keller & I were in the store in Palm Desert, CA as the shooting occurred.
Chad, Kel & I were doing a little Black Friday shopping mid-morning. We had been to the Street Fair and Mervyn's when we spotted Toys R Us. I remembered we had some gift cards and they might go a little further with all the sales. We normally don't shop at Toys R Us -- but it was right across the street and with a gift card -- who says no?
We head into the busy, busy store around 11:15AM. We kindof were taking our time looking at toys, clothes, etc. We were towards the back corner of the store, near the bikes. Chad had gone down an aisle to look at some sport toys and I was standing at the front of the aisle. Kel was in the cart near me. There was a commotion towards the front of the store -- not 20 yards from where I was standing. It sounded like a fight was breaking out. Natural human instinct is to head the direction of the fight to see what it's all about. Chad started walking towards the front -- I saw him. I stayed where I was, but on tip-toe, kindof interested. I didn't see anything except a crowd of people with their attention being drawn to the front of the store. All of a sudden, I see the entire massive crowd turn and in hysteria start charging my way. I didn't know what was happening but grabbed Kel out of the cart because I thought he might be trampled. All of a sudden I heard 'POP, POP'. I ducked behind an aisle holding Kel. I didn't really 'get' what just happened so I looked up and heard another series of 'POP, POP, POP, POP'. A man with a woman in a wheelchair was standing right by me and told me to stay down. All of a sudden the store alarm starts going off because the emergency exits had been opened. I looked down the aisle I was standing in and saw Chad running back towards me, moving a big step ladder out of the way beckoning towards the open door. I stood up and ran with Kel and Chad and we got out a side emergency exit with a huge crowd. It just didn't seem real. Was that really a gun?
We kept making our way further into the parking lot. We stood there a few minutes when the first cop car came screeching in right by us and the cop rolled his window down and said, "Where are the guys who were shot?" We told him the front of the store. He went in with gun drawn as more and more officers arrived. It was just siren after siren. At this point it started to sink in -- We were just witness to a shooting inside a Toys R Us.
I kept going between being scared to death, holding Keller tight, crying in Chad's arms to being so fired up and mad that somebody would endanger my family by bringing a loaded weapon inside a children's toy store that I was ready to kick someone's A@*! We stood in the parking lot for another 10 minutes as more and more officers, fire trucks and ambulances arrived on scene. I was so shaken up, but also wanted to see some justice -- namely an idiot being hauled into the back of squad car with handcuffs. We made our way slowly to our car, still not knowing all the details -- how many people had been shot, was it over a toy or not, etc. We found the car and just decided we needed to get out while we could. Chad just drove. More police cars came flying by us headed toward the store. We were in such shock -- we just drove. We could finally talk about 15 minutes down the road and 2 hours later we finally came off the adrenaline rush.
From the news reports -- the two men, who may have had some past bad blood between them, pulled guns on each other after their girlfriends started fighting. They killed each other.
Even today, the day after, it seems surreal. You replay it in your head a million times. It was by far one of the scariest experiences of my life. I am so, so, so grateful we were safe in the end. You can replay it again and again and say "What if I hadn't been taking my time in the store and was checking out at the time? What if we hadn't been near an emergency exit?" On and on....but we made it.