Sunday, February 27, 2011

The second warning about Greeley

Just when things around here were starting to get better--just when I was beginning to be able to fall asleep sooner without keeping myself awake with panic attacks--just when I was starting to slip into a little bit of feeling secure... last night happens.

Just before 2 a.m, Bryan and I were woken up by loud banging sounds. Both of us still traumatized from the burglary that was only two weeks ago, we knew someone was trying to break in again.

This was no little creak the house makes or car door slamming outside that my anxious mind turned into danger. There was no mistaking sounds that loud and clear. This was true, actual danger that had both us screaming in fear, jumping out of bed, and clutching each other for dear life. This was fear caused by imminent danger, the kind of fear that takes completely control of your body and shakes you around, making you shake and convulse uncontrollably. This is the kind of fear that strains your voice as you scream Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God because you don't know how else to react.

This is terror I've never felt before. I knew with complete, terrifying certainty that one or both of us was about to die.

Somehow, we gained enough composure to call 911. I ran to the window because that's my escape plan. Bryan grabbed a sword we have stashed by the bed because it's the only weapon I'll allow into the house.

Sidenote: Dialing 911 on a touch-screen phone in the midst of an emergency is a pretty difficult task. Something to think about anyway--maybe practice dialing 911 without actually doing it so you aren't fumbling around with it in the event of a real emergency.

So I called 911 while Bryan ventured as far as the kitchen, screaming for whoever was there to get out of our house. As I talked to the 911 dispatcher, I looked out the window to see if there was a car in front of our house or anyone outside. All I saw was a large white newer model SUV speed down the road. I tried to catch a license plate number or at least a make and model, but it was going too fast and I was too befuddled with sleep and panic.

The 911 officer was amazing. She helped calm me down and reassure me that the police were on their way. Every time we've had to call the police in the past few months (and the number is getting just alarmingly high), they've always responded really quickly--as in, while we're still on the phone with the dispatcher. Within probably two minutes.

So I freaked out when they didn't arrive immediately. What were they waiting for? THERE IS PROBABLY SOMEONE IN OUR HOUSE. I don't know if it took an extra long time or if it just seemed like it, but it was taking forever for the police to get here.

In the meantime, the dispatcher told me that they'd received several other calls from this area that were consistent with mine--that they had heard loud noises.

Apparently, there were shots fired a few houses down from mine. This is as much information as I have. The dispatcher told me the police checked out my house and said we were in no immediate danger. After checking out the apparent shooting scene, two officers came to talk to us. They got my vehicle description and told us they found bullet casings, so there was definitely a shooting. Beyond that much, I have no clue. But our house appeared to be fine. In our post-traumatic stress over the burglary, both of us assumed we were being broken into again.

When the police left, we searched the house. Well, Bryan searched the house while I tried not to puke. It seems that everything was fine. What we had heard must have been the shooting.

I don't know if anyone was hurt. The police officers who talked to us didn't mention anything, and we didn't see an ambulance or anything, but we couldn't see that far down the road from our window. The newspaper didn't report on it today.

When you move to Greeley, people generally warn you about two main things. The first is the smell. Greeley is home to a slaughterhouse and the place often reeks of dying cattle. Everyone moving to Greeley hears about the smell. We're pretty famous around Colorado for it.

The second warning, the one less famous but still frequent, is about crime. There's a pretty substantial gang population in Greeley, and while it's not as infamous as the slaughterhouse, and the violence isn't nearly as bad as in larger cities, you still get warnings. Lock up your car. Don't leave valuables in plain sight. Don't walk alone at night.

Aside from walking alone at night, I more or less have kept these things in mind for the past three years of living here, but I've never experienced any problems until the past six months. In the past six months, my car has been hit by my drunk driving neighbor, my house has been burglarized, and now this shooting. The good part is that out of everything that's happened, we've been extremely blessed. We haven't been hurt, and we haven't suffered losses or damages that aren't easily fixed.

The damage for me is in the fear. Last night was the most terrifying night of my entire life. After the police left, I stayed awake until the sun came up. All day today, I've been fine, but now that the sun is setting and uncertainty is creeping in with the darkness, the fear is rising quickly.

I know that if everything remains okay, I'll be fine in a few months. I was already starting to heal from the burglary when this happened, but now I'm back at the beginning.


Kirsty said...

Oh no! I'm so sorry to hear that things aren't getting better. I really hoped it was a one off. Fingers crossed it doesn't happen again. Do you have a neighbourhood watch program in your area?

Kess said...

Sorry to hear about the burglaries. Both experiences must have been so frightening! I hope there isn't a repeat, so you can start to feel more at ease again.

Also, sorry I haven't left you a comment in a while. I haven't had all that much time lately, but will hopefully be a more interactive follower soon when I start my new job!