It was one minute before the Detroit fireworks were to begin when a gun shot rang out in the Spirit of Detroit plaza.
Eight of us were huddled at a picnic table about 30 feet away and everybody immediately wanted to call it a night as a stampede of people rushed us from the area of the shooting. My two children and their friends got up from the table and began walking away.
They were scared.
What had been a nice bonding afternoon of sight seeing and talk was ruined by someone who shot an innocent bystander following an argument.
A 47 year old woman was shot and she was on her way to Ford Hospital. We were unharmed and were on our way to the John Lodge freeway to get the heck out of town. My children Brandon and Celine eagerly said yes when I asked if they wanted to attend the fireworks.
Both said they are not coming back next year. We did not see the shooting. We did not see the aftermath but it traumatized my family enough that they don’t want to come back.
After the shooting I made a move toward the crime scene to see what was going on which bothered Celine.
“I wanted to smack you upside the back of the head,” she said. “I did not want you to get shot.”
When I turned around to retreat my kids were already leaving and within 10 seconds a group of teenagers jumped onto the picnic table we’d been sitting at since 4:30 in the afternoon. Our spot was gone. As a dad I felt I needed to reclaim our turf.
“Would you guys please get up,” I said to the group. “We’ve been here all afternoon and only got up because of the shooting.”
No one moved except my daughter Celine who walked up to me and said: “It’s OK dad. It’s not that deep. We just want to leave any way.”
Celine feared one of the teenagers would want to do me harm. So we walked away as a light rain pelted us. It was Brandon, Celine and her friend short Grace.
Brandon was so distraught that he stepped in a pile of horse dung.
I was a little upset. It had been a perfect day. We enjoyed dinner at Mexican Village, cookies from Avalon bakery and some snacks from Woodward Coney Island. And we talked about graduation, college and the girls engaged in girl talk while Brandon ate everything in sight.
The picnic table next to us was led by a dad who was taking and selling photos to help pay for the pizza and hotdogs his children and wife ate.
We hoped to top off the day with a colorful and loud fireworks show.
It didn’t happen.
“The fireworks is what we would call a success but we had a few knuckleheads out here that wanted to argue,” Detroit Assistant Chief Arnold Williams told a group of reporters later. “And having that argument caused a lot of people a lot of pain.”
The only good thing is the incident allowed us to leave downtown without sitting in traffic. We zipped on the Lodge and were home pretty quickly.
The evening was ruined but I thought of the silver lining. Celine, Brandon and short Grace were in the car safe and sound. We did not have to spend the evening in the hospital with a gun hot wound. We would be at home with our loved ones
I appreciated that we were all safe and had a good tale to tell friends. We just won’t be back next year.