Follow up on the events of July 10, 2016

Flowers and candles for Tarique LegerThis post is a direct follow up to my previous post
The blood on my hand, so I suggest you start there if you haven’t read that.

It’s been a bit over two weeks since Tarique Leger lost his life after he was shot leaving the Flatbook unit in our building, becoming Ottawa’s ninth murder of 2016.

One thing that we’d like to be clear about; neither of us considers what we did “courageous”, “heroic”, “worthy of a medal” or anything remotely like that; as some people have suggested to us. There are people who deal with this level of tragedy day in and day out – for years; the police, paramedics, firefighters, emergency room doctors, the 911 dispatchers – they’re a massive team of people who work to keep us safe and help us when our lives are at their worst, and they suffer greatly for it. Those people are heroes.

We did what we thought was the right thing to do; what we’d like to think that others would have done if they’d been in our place.

I’ve said it to a few people; one of the worst things that could have happened to me is if I had done nothing – then the mental repercussions of not having tried; not done anything; that would have been horrible. We tried. We did our best, and eventually I’ll be okay with that.

If you are the kind of person to turn away, I’d like you to take a few minutes in a quiet place and reflect on that. What if it was you? Wouldn’t you want someone to come out and help you? Then you should do the same, because someday, it might *be* you.

Don’t have confidence in your first aid training? Take a refresher. Even if you don’t have any training, the 911 dispatcher will walk you through step by step until help arrives.

Tracey and I have received a wonderful outpouring of support from friends, family and strangers. Thank you all – it’s meant the world to us both. Some of your comments have literally moved me to tears (the good kind, that make you feel loved).

Many have suggested we seek post-trauma counselling; I’ve never been good at talking about things with strangers – I tend to internalize everything, analyze it myself, and deal with it.

Honestly, Tracey and I will be fine. If for any reason we are not, we have each other, our friends, and the ability to reach out for support if we think there is a need.

Aftermath;

The Tuesday afterwards, I left home to meet a client, and came upon people gathered out front of our place; Tarique’s sister and friends. I spent about twenty minutes with them answering heart-breaking questions before I had to head off for a meeting. As I left, I handed them my card, told them if they needed anything to let me know.

Shortly after my meeting wrapped up, Tarique’s father called me to thank Tracey and I for our efforts. I’d planned to spend the rest of the day working at “my office”, but packed up and went home. I arrived, spoke at length with Tarique’s parents – and my heart broke again; they’re the ones who are really suffering – they lost their son, and they don’t know who or why.

Talking with them and Tarique’s friends reminded me of how differently white people and black people see the police, how they’re treated, how the general public understands the machinations of a major investigation, and how it might be possible to improve communication for all involved. I did my best to explain what I understand to be the process, which I think helped, but… I’m going to have to think about this a bit more before I send off the email the Ottawa Police Service about that.

They left flowers and candles; it will be a long time – if ever – before I can walk out of the place and not think of Tarique, his father, mother, sister, and friends I met that day, the dead connecting the living.

We finally managed to get our follow-up video interviews scheduled early Friday morning (eight in the morning is really, really early for me). We went down to the police station, met with the detective and were interviewed separately, which is about the extent of our official involvement in the investigation unless there is a trial, in which case one or both of us may be called upon to testify.

Questions;

I’ve received a fair number of questions since the post, so I thought I’d gather them up and get them out of the way in one bunch.

Do we feel less safe now?

No. We’ve lived in the neighbourhood for going on twenty years, and the character of the area hasn’t changed; if anything I think it’s gotten safer. That said, I did have a conversation with the owner of FlatBook about improving safety and security of their bookings.

How fast were the police there?

I checked my phone log today; the 911 call duration was seven minutes. I’d estimate the first officer arrived in four minutes or less.The call ended (I believe) once I had been relieved by the police officer.

Why didn’t you just stay in your place where it was safe?

Technically we both violated the first rule of first responders; make sure the scene is safe. In the scheme of things, I think it was the correct decision.

Has this changed your position on gun control?

No. I’ve been in favour of restricting access to firearms greatly, registering every existing weapon, and requiring extensive background checks & training for a long time. Tarique’s murder reaffirmed to me that my position is correct.

I received a couple of questions about “the gory details”.

No.

6 thoughts on “Follow up on the events of July 10, 2016

  1. Love and caring your way.
    The “we are not heroes” resonated with me. I have never been able to articulate why that bothered me so much when people said it. There is never any question about doing what needs to be done when you are first on a scene. It was something that happened, not something I did.
    Also resonated with that process where “the young stranger” becomes someone with a name and family who are mourning.Your grief is so different from their grief, you see a stranger and they lose someone so significant and vital to their lives, all you can do is witness and honour their mourning.
    I never had grief counselling either. But I know I should, certain events still trigger me – not just lightening, but any time there is heavy rain when I camp, even though rain can’t hurt me. I feel unsafe. Laurie (sister-in-law of the lightening-strike victim) said she couldn’t get her tent zipper open when she heard Rose screaming, and ever since then, if her tent zipper sticks, she tugs at it frantically, and starts to panic. It’s small unrelated stuff that triggers an over-reaction, and you don’t even know why, you just fall apart over stupid things, years later. I hope you process fully and in a healthy way – but it might help you to know that these little odd things can happen – I felt so much better about my camping/rain falling apart after Laurie told me about her tent-zipper thing. It really helped.
    Don’t know if any of this helped, but I shared just in case. I love you guys, and I’m so sad for this young man, and his family, and you two, and the world.
    Oh – and in addition to all your gun control thoughts, I’d also like to see mandatory expensive liability insurance carried by every gun holder. Just like car insurance, for exactly the same reason – likelyhood of damage.

  2. Wow Tom and Tracey! I didn’t realize that happened at your building. How awful for you both but especially sad for Tarique’s family. This kind of violence is both tragic and senseless. Just want you to know that I think you are both courageous and pretty amazing. I realize that you think you did what anyone would have but sadly that’s not true. Glad you are both okay. Could have gone even worse than it went. xoxox

  3. Thank you this is beautiful , my brother touched a lot of hearts he was a lover he was just a baby , the person who took his life might have taken his life but that person can never take away all the love tarique had he was truly an amazing little brother , I miss him so so much until we meet again lil baby

  4. When you first posed this ‘follow up’ I was ‘afraid’ to read it. Ya… big chicken. Having this whole thing happen so close (I think of you and Tracey as ‘extended family’ friends) is scary to me. Yes, I realized while reading the OP about the shooting, that the first rule was broken and thought “I would likely forget that one too and get myself shot”. It was a frightening realization.
    In the end, you both did what had to be done and what you had to do. It’s so sad that a young man had to die and his family and friends have to go on without him.
    I am in 100% agreement on the gun regulation comments and like Kat’s additional ‘public liability insurance’ idea a lot. Yes, ‘people kill people’ but guns make it all too easy, removing the opportunity for ‘sober second thought’.
    I think I was one of those who called you a hero and understand you being uncomfortable with it but I still believe that for ordinary people to be extraordinary for even a few minutes takes a selfless act of courage which is by definition heroism and deserves to be recognized by those who know them. Yes, all those you mentioned (emergency services workers) are heroes every day, but when you take a ‘first aid’ course you agree to take on that role if it is necessary.
    I recently took a refreshers course for my CPR/AED training and all I kept thinking about all that day was you and what you experienced. At the end of the course the trainer said “… and hopefully you never have to use it…” but we all take the training so we do know what to do.
    I’m glad I finally read this today and all the comments. Thank you

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