It was years ago, but it haunts me to this very day. This wasn’t a premeditated murder or revenge or a drug deal gone wrong. It was just me being in the wrong place at the wrong time, and I acted purely on instinct to protect myself.
I was a junior in high school and had just gotten out of class on Friday when my older brother called me. He was taking his best friend, Chris, kayaking that weekend and he wanted to know if I could go. I drove home as fast as I could and met him to load up our kayaks. We left home around 4:30 in the afternoon.
After driving for five hours on the interstate, we exited and drove to a gas station to fill up. My brother stayed with the car while Chris and I walked into the gas station. I noticed two guys in their mid-twenties arguing with the cashier when we walked in, but I ignored their yelling because the whole situation made me feel uneasy. I worked my way to the back of the store where the restrooms were.
The yelling got even louder, so I turned around to see one of the men with a blue North Face jacket holding a pistol up in the air. He yelled “ENOUGH!” and brought the gun down and shot the cashier in the head. He started shooting into the store and breaking the glass doors to the refrigerated drinks. I freaked out and hid behind the closest display and started to hyperventilate. A manager came busting out of the back office right by me and he had a pistol, too. He tried to shoot the assailant, but he wasn’t quick enough. The man in the North Face jacket shot the manager in the chest, and he collapsed about ten feet from me.
He was bleeding everywhere. The blood was just pouring out of him from his chest and he was struggling to breathe. I crawled over to him since I had learned first aid as a Boy Scout. I applied pressure with my hands, but I knew it wouldn’t make a difference. He was bleeding from his back too and the floor was slippery from all the blood and it was all over my knees from trying to help him. I realized he wouldn’t live without immediate medical attention. The man in the jacket started shooting again. He shot the lights over the hotdog display that I had last seen Chris standing by. And then everything slowed down and become incredibly vivid and clear. I wiped my bloody hands on my shirt, reached over the manager’s body, grabbed the pistol, pulled the slide and stood up. I had fired a gun before. My dad taught me when I was younger. I aimed at the second man and shot him in the leg. The recoil of the shot caught me off guard because it was much more powerful than I expected.
The man in the jacket turned around and looked me in the eye.
He seemed shocked that I had just shot his accomplice. He kinda shook his head like he had no clue what had just happened and then he started to raise his own pistol. I shot him twice in the chest and he fell backwards and dropped his gun. His accomplice was screaming in pain and started to crawl towards the gun on the floor. I started yelling at him to stop moving but he didn’t listen. As soon as he reached the gun, I shot him in the back twice, and he didn’t move anymore.
I remember the police coming and asking me to sit down on the curb outside while the paramedics got the manager. I remember the clarity and the vividness while I was holding the gun slowly fading as I told the police what happened. The paramedics asked me if I was hurt because I was completely covered in blood. I remember my brother sitting by me and putting his arm around me while they asked me millions of questions and different police officers told me I had done the right thing. I remember going to some type of insurance case thing for the manager where I told a bunch of lawyers and police officers what had happened. I remember a man coming up to me and saying I had saved the manager’s life by doing what I had done. I still see that man’s shocked face as he turned around and saw me holding the gun. I remember the look of confusion he had as he fell down with two gunshot wounds in his chest. I remember everything about that night. Out of all the things I remember, I don’t remember ever being asked how I felt having just killed two people.
The only thing worse than nobody asking is the fact that I felt nothing. Absolutely nothing. And that is what horrifies me. I killed two people that I had never met, and I felt absolutely nothing while I was doing it.
Producer’s note: this story was excerpted from a throwawayyy0192’s Reddit account of the event.