This blog is first and foremost a journal, (here I am Scoops Howser M.D) always has been, always will be. Because of that I feel compelled to be honest and I feel it is natural to share this here. This isn’t a fun post to write, but I hope it is healing.
Last Thursday night we (the Allen fam) experienced a terrifying few hours in our home. Our mentally unstable neighbor became agitated, aggravated, and then, suicidal and homicidal (taking his three year old daughter hostage) which in turn led to a 5 hours stand off with the police (in the middle of the night). Thankfully it ended with him being taken into custody, and the little girl being rescued by police – safely and physically unharmed.
The road to get to that safety point was beyond terrifying for us as we experienced the whole ordeal with limited information from inside our house with our kids.
As we listened to a police scanner (online) from a huddled position behind our bed we were able to piece together the severity of the situation. Our neighbors from across the street were also able to give us accounts of what they were witnessing via text messages. My neighbors really banded together and it felt good to know that we were not alone in this. It was only until later that we realized that there were 50+ police officers around the perimeter of our block, including snipers, the bomb squad, and an entire swat team in our backyard. The operation to save this child and secure our neighborhood was BIG – and I’m so glad that those officers were there to keep us safe. I am beyond impressed, and have a new found respect for the people who risk their lives to keep communities secure.
The terror that we felt as a family is unsettling. We were in our home, this place that is supposed to provide us with safety and security and we felt anything but safe and secure during those late night hours and into the days following. How do you explain what you are experiencing to seven and four year olds, and how do you make them feel safe? We feel desperate to make our home feel like ours again and have been doing what we can to feel in control. Feeling violated is an understatement and I hope that we can begin to bring peace back into our home in the coming days.
I live on 40th and Garfield, so we must be very close to you. I was thinking how scary it would have been for those close to it and how I would have explained it to my children. I’m sorry you had to experience that in your home.
Hi Neighbor, Yes it was extremely scary and I hate that my children had to experience it. We are still very un-edge as this man has been aggressive with us in the past and has been just released from police custody on bail. It’s all a waiting game, but I know that eventually he will go to prison and we will feel more at peace.
oh, goodness… so scary… and yet with every single hug and kiss, every snack and meal you serve, every time you huddle together on the sofa, you are bringing peace back into your home… .
You are so right, Beth! I have been very conscious of creating happy feelings in our home. Lots of movies in the basement, staying up late, popcorn, etc. And I’ve been cleaning and purging like a crazy person because that makes me feel in control. Thanks!
I am so sorry for what happened. Last summer I was home alone with our five year old when a wanted felon attempted a car jacking nearby, stole a police car, and then escaped on foot into our neighborhood. It was a beautiful, sunshiny day and the hovering police helicopter was the first sign that anything was wrong. Then there were sirens and police bullhorns alerting us to barricade ourselves indoors. Keeping calm and strong for my son, while knowing a desperate and violent man might jump our fence or force a door at any moment was one of toughest moments I’ve had as a parent. The man was eventually found taking shelter not 100 yards from our home, the helicopter flew away, and the neighborhood was quiet again but the fear lingered.
What I needed to regain a sense of safety was time. Remembering the neighbor’s voice on the phone telling me they were watching our house, that they would come through the fence if we needed help, that we were not alone, still makes me tear up. There are really good, helpful, wonderful people in the world that will have your back when shit hits the fan. It sounds like what your family experienced was horrible and mine pales in comparison, but I have hope that you’ll find your peace again. Until then, I’m sending all the hugs.
Hey Amanda, I’m sorry that you had to go through that situation with your son. It is amazing how quickly a day can go from calm and beautiful to terrifyingly scary. I too am finding a lot of strength and peace in my neighbors. I always liked my neighbors, but I see them more as a family these days. They really stepped up and helped to make our family feel safe and secure in this unsettling time. Thanks for your support :)
Holy cats! Wishing everyone in your family peace. Hang in there!
Thanks for your support, Janelle!
How frightening for all of you but especially for your children. It is so disturbing that kids today don’t feel safe in their schools or homes. I’m grateful that this was taken seriously with a large outpouring of police protection and that it ended without anyone being killed but my goodness how long will it be before the man’s little girl gets over this?
Yes, I’m so thankful for the police. In the days after we found out that for many officers involved this was a once in a career time operation. This was the worst case scenario that officers train for. They were able to execute the plan in such a professional manner. With so much tension the situation could have gone a lot of ways.
It must have been so scary! I hope you, your family and your children espetially can find a sense of serenity soon again. Sending you lots of love.
Thanks, Ila. We are getting there. The kids seem to have recovered pretty quickly, this mom on the other hand is having a bit of a hard time.
l live in New England just south of Boston. The Boston Marathon Bombing hit very close to home. My son and l were actually watching the race when the bombs went off. ln the week that followed when the city shut down l turned to Fred Rogers to help my children understand the tragedy and violence of the day. He said “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” Hold fast.
That is so true, Lauralou, and thank you for reminding me of that quote. It seemed natural to remind my boys throughout the night that the police were here to help and protect us, that they knew we were inside of our house, and that they would do whatever they had to to keep us safe. This was reassuring to all of us, but I focused on that, instead of what might be happening in the house next door to us.
I am so sorry that you had to experience the terror of that bombing with your son. I hope you have found peace in the time after. Thank you for your support.
first off, (hug)!
In the next few days if you feel anxious take a deep breathe and look around. Look at the beautiful, loving home you’ve created for your amazing husband and adorable boys. Your little corner of the world is safe and full of love because you made it so, no one can take that away!
Geez, I am so sorry this happened to your family! And I am also so glad to hear that everybody made it out OK.
As somebody who has gone through a traumatic event, I would like to suggest getting some outside counseling for your whole family. Even if you go twice and they decide you’re OK, you just need time, it will be well worth it. Not properly processing traumatic events can stick with you for decades subconsciously*. Please, consider having yourself and your family evaluated. Feeling safe in your home is a basic need, and one you and your family deserve.
*15 years after said trauma, I was seeing a therapist for something completely different. It seems my train-wreck 20s were a textbook reaction to my trauma (note: you can train-wreck in ways other than substance abuse). SO textbook that the therapist *actually gave me a textbook to read on the subject.* Had I just (ignored the macho) gotten help immediately, things would have been very different.
I can’t thank you guys enough for your comments. Your support and encouragement means a lot to me right now. I will be responding to all of your comments individually over the next few days, but for right now I am focusing on keeping a clear head as we wait to see what the legal outcome of this situation will be.
THANK YOU ALL, and chat at you soon.
i love the comment “look for the helpers”…..
So happy for you and your family that there was a good outcome but oh my what a scary thing to go through.
Big hugs to you all x
That must have been truly terrifying; I’m so sorry your family had to experience that. After something like that happens it does make you acutely aware of how vulnerable you are…how vulnerable we all are. We had a similar tragedy happen in our family quite recently but unfortunately there was no warning and by the time the police arrived, two people were dead. I know their immediate neighbors were notified and they were shocked to realize that someone dangerously unstable had been living so close by.
There are so many mentally ill people out there, and so few resources and so little awareness. Our culture of ‘rugged individualism’ and ‘just suck it up’ don’t help. When will we realize that we’re a society and we’re all in this together?
I hope you find peace and can feel carefree and safe in your home, yard, and neighborhood soon. And I’m glad to hear my tax dollars are paying for a top-notch police force here in Minneapolis. (((hugs)))
Definitely an unsettling situation. My parent’s neighborhood (just north of the Twin Cities) was on lockdown last summer while they were doing a manhunt for a killer/bank robber that was on the run. Hopefully his daughter gets some much needed counseling. Was this the same neighbor that you planted your tree in the backyard due to?
dang! I am so sorry that you had to experience that. I am sending good vibes to you and yours. I also echo the sentiments of Amanda and Lauralou – such good comments.
Oh, I remember this guy from your other post. “Look for the helpers” indeed, and that is just what you did.
Oh Alison, I’m so sorry you and your family had to experience such an awful thing and that there are lingering insecurities. I can relate to so much of your situation. We had a very similar hostage situation in a nearby home in our very first house in Illinois. Our neighborhood was on lockdown for most of a weekend. It was extremely unsettling. In the end, no one was hurt and we were safe so, yes, kudos all the people who keep us safe everyday.
On a similar note, after Everett’s accident earlier this year things haven’t quite been the same for us. In retrospect, I can see now that there were definite signs of PTSD early on (for him and for me) but I was in total shock mode that it was difficult to have any clarity. I ,too, found myself hungry for anything that would give me control: cleaning, purging, exercising. Not bad things by any means, but the motivation behind them was fear. We are still working through things (the start of the school year has brought new challenges) but life is gradually feeling more “normal.” I encourage your family to talk to a professional about your feelings and to keep doing all the lovely, cozy things you enjoy doing in your home. And never feel guilty about what you aren’t doing. You are doing the most important thing by making you and your family’s well-being the #1 priority. Everything else can wait.
Lots of love. xx
I bumped into your blog just this week and read this post. We live in the central city and there’s some things that happen here that my brain doesn’t even know what to do with. One of the hardest days was when a father of four got pulled over in front of our home and subsequently arrested. His children were all sitting on our front lawn with their handcuffed daddy, waiting for the police to take him away. I didn’t know what to do or what to say to my little kiddos who were watching as well. Before the father was placed in the backseat of the police car, he hugged and kissed each one of his children. My oldest, then 6, asked me why the police would take away a good daddy from his children. It was a heartbreaking conversation about though he loves his kiddos, there’s a consequence for whatever bad choice he made. It was a moment that I won’t forget and it’s a conversation we’ve had multiple times since.
I’m thankful that you were there with your children and that you were the first touchpoint of conversation with them afterward. I’m sure you know that you played a major role in how they think about and how they will remember this situation.
Peace to you and your family.
When we had something like this happen we called the local Plymouth police department and for free they came over and did an analysis of our house in terms of things we could change to make it safer. Their tips were really great and while it won’t help when you’re outside, it made me feel like at least when we were inside we knew we were 100% safe which decreased some of my anxiety. Here were a few of their tips:
1.Add a jimmy plate and an auxiliary lock to any patio doors.
2. Install Door Devils on all of your exterior doors. It makes it impossible for someone to kick in your door. You can google and find them online.
3. Buy Shatter Safe and install it on any doors with glass in them or any windows you’re worried about someone breaking to try and enter your home. You can order Shatter Safe online and makes it almost impossible for someone to break any glass and enter your home.
4. Keep mace/pepper spray by your bed.
I’m sure the Minneapolis police department has something similar. My other coping mechanism was to reorganize all of my kitchen cabinets! Hope you feel safer soon.