Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The day after yesterday

In some ways today was harder than yesterday, because there were less distractions. My adrenaline rush was long gone, Samantha's BD was over and I couldn't really muster up the motivation to dig into office work.

Spent the morning at home with my family and then went to swimming class with them at 10:30 -- what a great time! I hadn't seen Samantha swim in a few months, and had never seen Jack in swim class. Both of them were very impressive. Samantha can backstroke more than 50ft, and Jack was diving to the bottom of the pool for rings (his teacher helped the bouyant little guy get to the bottom).

Sleeping was difficult last night. If it's tough again tonight, I've agreed to see a doc and maybe get a prescription for a sleep aid for a few nights. Not my style but two close friends have recommended it, so I'm trying to be a good listener.

Update on Julian events

  1. Tonight police tracked down the car of the suspected shooters in the drive-by -- it was parked in an apartment complex southwest of Houston. The car was not reported stolen and detectives have solid information on the vehicle's driver and passenger. Hopefully it's just a matter of time before they are apprehended, or turn themselves in.
  2. I was able to attend a vigil for Julian tonight, held at the scene of the shooting. At first the high school principal spotted me, shook my hand and asked me if he could do anything for me. I just asked to be informed of viewing and funeral plans so I could attend and honor/remember Julian.
  3. For a while I didn't see anyone I recognized at the vigil, but then Julian's family arrived 15 minutes late. Or maybe it was more planned that that since they were escorted by Quanell X, a local "activist" with former ties to the nation of Islam and the New Black Panthers. Basically he follows the cameras around Houston and looks for photo opportunities. He led a good prayer, though, and then got himself and his posse out of the way so Julian's father could speak to the press.
  4. Yes, the media was there... lots of cameras. More on that in a minute.
  5. After Mr. Ruiz finished his heartfelt statement, a young girl at his side spotted me and pointed me out, asking me to come to them. I did, and finally got to meet Julian's family (father, mother, aunt, brother and sister). We hugged and cried and I answered a few of their questions.
  6. One unresolved issue for them was the exact location of the shooting/death. I realized that of the four witnesses, only one had come to the vigil and she seemed distant. These kids are only teenagers and I should have guessed that it would be too much for them to come back only one day after what they'd seen. Anyway, that meant I was the only person there who knew exactly where Julian's body was. I escorted the family through the crowd to the exact spot, and Mr. Ruiz laid down a bouquet there. It was followed up with other flowers and surrounded by a circle of candles.
  7. Congressman Al Green was there and gave me his card. I'm not sure why.
  8. I gave my phone number to Mr. Ruiz because he wanted to stay in touch. I'm happy to answer questions and help give him comfort/closure about what happened, but I'm not interested in lawsuits. This isn't a cynical thought -- it's realistic when Quanell X is in the mix, trust me. At one point Quanell asked me about the amubulance response, because he'd heard it took way too long to get there. Puh-leeze. Can we just grieve in peace. He'll disappear when the cameras do.
  9. Speaking of cameras, yes, they cornered me and asked me some questions. I went ahead and answered because it wasn't detailed information about the shooting. Still, I was very thankful to watch the news tonight and discover that not a single one of the five local stations aired my comments. Mr. Ruiz deserved to be heard as he lamented the loss of his youngest son.
  10. All that remains is to talk to Mr. Ruiz and his family at some point, and attend the funeral.

Burning questions

Here are some things that have floated through my head today:

If I had to do it over again, would I do anything differently?

I'm relieved to answer this with a resounding "NO". I found out tonight that I literally missed the shooting by less than 10 seconds. The witness said I was on the scene right when Julian hit the ground. If I had known that it was a shooting then I would have looked around more, but I thought it was probably a drug overdose, seizure or just a case of fainting. My focus was on Julian, not nearby cars. Even though the car was surely in sight if I would've turned my head, I had no way to know that so there are no regrets.

How did my shirt get blood on it?

This question has bothered me, and I will probably never have the answer. Like I've said before, there was very little blood on Julian, and it was on his stomach, which I never touched. The chest wound I found had no blood whatsoever. Still, when it was all over and I was having coffee with my father-in-law, he saw the blood on my collar and shoulder. I have no idea how it got there. He graciously took the shirt to his house to wash so that Jamie would not have to see it or wash it herself.

Who is Quanell X?

This guy has been linked to many interesting organizations and has been quoted saying completely outrageous things. Yet I still don't find him dangerous because none of his promises and threats ever have any real follow-through. He seems to lose interest or funding after a while and follow the cameras to the next event. In the last few weeks he spoke at a school district meeting and jumped to the "aid" of a man tasered by a police officer. Of course the man was black and the cop was white. If it was the other way around then Quanell would never involve himself. If you are looking for some entertainment, you should go the website of the New Black Panthers and read their goals. Among them are the demands for financial reparations, the release of all black prisoners in jail, and funding to build black communities. It's some of the most racist stuff I've ever seen.

Bottom line

I will not be used for any type of racial agenda or lawsuit. I'm not a white guy who tried to save a hispanic kid in a black neighborhood. I'm just a guy who tried to do a good thing for another child of God. It didn't work, but I tried.

One woman told me tonight that "people don't just go around helping strangers like that around here." I looked her right in the eyes and said, "Maybe they'll start now." I can't control them, but as for me and my family, we serve God and our fellow man.


NB said...

Great stuff. Truly great stuff.

hardrox said...

While saddened to hear you're sleep has been influenced by this incident to the point you're thinking about meds, I think it's human nature. It may take a week or two, but you'll process all the information and put it aside.

It's great you went to the memorial. You're presence was obviously comforting to the family and friends of Julian.

You continue to be a role model to people near and far.

FishrCutB8 said...

I don't know about "putting it aside". I think things like this become a permanent part of you, your character, your spirit...if you let it. All my prayers are with you, my brother.

hardrox said...

Fish - By "put it aside" I meant not in the forefront of his mind, consuming his thoughts every few hours and keeping him up at night. I doubt anyone could completely forget an event such as this.

Bob Devlin said...

Hang in there, Michael. It's going to take some time for you to put this in it's place. And I think your kindness will rub off on Julian's family and friends. There are people in this world who will do things for strangers as you have demonstarted.

It seems like you have a couple of fish in your brood. That's incredible how they swim so well at their age. You must be very proud.

k-court said...

Michael, I'm sure this must be very difficult for you. I cannot imagine having a person die in my arms. But what you have done is not only inspirational for all of us who call you friend but also must be very re-assuring deep down inside for you yourself. You did the right thing. You were true to yourself and your beliefs. That must be very comforting.

jruck37 said...

I can't imagine how an incident like this would affect someone, but I'm proud of the witness that you have been to all of those involved. Hang in there, man. You're in my prayers.