Monday, March 7, 2016

A Bad Way to Start a Monday

I didn't think I'd be using my lunch hour to write a blog post about how a woman just shot herself outside the courthouse where I work, but unfortunately that's what I'm doing, because that's what just happened. 

It might seem tacky and strange to write about this now, but having experienced workplace violence/terror before, I'm scared; and the only way I know how to process fear (or any emotion really) is through writing. So that's basically what I am doing while continuing to be grateful that no one else was apparently shot or injured, and hope that perhaps the woman--who is reportedly being treated at the local hospital--survived.

Details remain sketchy right now, but since the victim was outside the courthouse, there's speculation she could have been a party to a domestic or custody/parental rights proceeding, all of which tend to be high-octane cases emotionally-speaking, and have precipitated shootings in other courthouses around the country.

I heard the gunshot, but it didn't really register as such. I was deeply engaged in a work project and there are loud noises outside all the time, notably from construction. Moments later though, a colleague came into my office to point out the crime scene unfolding just outside my window. Our office building--which houses court rooms, judicial chambers, the D.A.'s office, and the law offices where I work--is directly across a narrow street from the Capitol building. We were placed on lock-down and within a matter of about an hour, the scene appeared to have been processed and cleared.

Two immediate things come to mind at this point: (1) We live in a country where civilian shootings on the street (much less mass shootings) are completely routine, I guess even in Juneau, where generally speaking I feel very safe; (2) We have a legal system that can be desperately alienating and despair-inducing to parties in custody and other domestic-type disputes. This is something I've learned from my pro bono family cases. I have handled cases where I have worried something like this could easily happen, or breathed a sigh of relief when it didn't.

I think it's safe to say we as a country have some work to do, but for now I'm just hoping this woman is okay. I don't know her (or at least I hope I don't), but surely there are people who love her and are rooting for her to pull through. Whoever she is, please keep her in your thoughts right now.

UPDATE: Reporters are saying the woman passed away at 11:37 a.m. Truly a tragedy.

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