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In an instant

May 13, 2014 11:45 am | Janice Huser

It was the last thing in the world I could have imagined myself experiencing. On Friday, just before 6 p.m., I was walking out of a store on main street, holding my son's hand, when we heard what sounded like a horrible collision of vehicles.

Other patrons in the store stopped and peered out the doorway, only to hear a number of popping sounds coming from the intersection of 48th street and 50th avenue. After that, everything seems like a weird dream – I remember a volunteer firefighter who by chance happened to be purchasing items at the same store standing next to me, he look down and calmly said something to the effect of “that was a riffle.”

He and the store's manager then quickly reacted, locking the store's front door and rushing everyone to the back room. I remember my heart racing, and my concern quickly shifting to my seven-year-old son who had found his way to a back corner, standing next to a little girl not much older than him.

We stayed in the back, most stating their disbelief and confusion of what was going on, in broad daylight in the middle of the street. Just minutes before a number of cop cars had sped passed the store, leading us to believe something serious was taking place.

I have no idea how long we stayed in the back of the store – but looking back I assume it was only about 10 minutes. My phone began beeping as text messages started coming in from coworkers who had already heard that something major had happened.

I also remember the volunteer firefighter leaving through the back door when the call came in for the department to respond to the collision. I remember the sound of the fire chief's voice over the radio, and then I remember the decision being made that it was safe to leave the back room, slowly. I remember seeing the same firefighter in the store, again standing near the front door.

I made my son quickly jump into the truck just down the street, and we left the area, avoiding the streets that were quickly being blocked off by police. I quickly picked up the phone and called my mom, who I was supposed to have been meeting with about 20 minutes prior.

Although I somehow made it to also pick up my son's friend and then hurried to a school event, the next block of time is a bit of a blur in my mind. I remember talking to people about the incident, but so many things were uncertain. I also remember feeling sick to my stomach for quite some time.

That night was a long one once I finally returned home. One of our Journal reporters attended a midnight conference with RCMP as I waited to hear from him and helped get a story up for readers as quickly as possible. Rumours were swirling and details were few prior to the conference.

The basics were then revealed. A shootout between a man and police on main street in St. Paul. The same small community I grew up in and have chosen to raise my own family in, and at an intersection I drive through daily. I crawled into bed at about 3:30 a.m. on Saturday I believe, waking up a few hours later to move on with my day.

Although I got through what was already expected to be a busy day filled with other work, it was not until about 5:30 p.m. on Saturday when I had a moment to sit alone in my truck that reality finally sank in. The fact that I was about half a block away from this incident was a lot to take in.

On Sunday, I felt like I was starting to feel a little more normal. The shock was starting to lessen, the sick feeling was leaving, and I could almost think clearly again. It wasn't the Mother's Day I had envisioned when I left work on Friday afternoon, but it was certainly a day to be thankful for. A day to realize that life can change in an instant.

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