My Husband Was Shot In Front Of Our Children

by Colleen Dilthey Thomas
Originally Published: 
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“This is Officer Smith. Your husband has been shot, but your children are OK.”

I hope you never have to hear that. I hope that your world is never ripped apart in one split second. My husband was shot. At three o’clock in the afternoon. Right in front of our four children. We do not live in a high crime area. My husband is not involved in a gang. My husband is not a drug dealer or user. My husband is an average, suburban father who was shot, at point blank range, during a road rage incident.

By the grace of God, the two bullets that hit him did not kill him. He suffered only minor injuries and was back with his family and recovering quickly. But what about my kids? How will they recover? How will they ever forget what happened that day? How do they erase the memory of seeing their father shot? They won’t. Ever. Never, never ever.

They will forever hear the echo of gunfire. They will hear their father yell, “Are you pulling a gun on me?!” They will always remember him being whisked away in an ambulance as they stood on the side of the road with a police officer. A complete stranger, tasked with calming four children. They will never forget the fear of the unknown and whether their father was alive. They’ll remember their grandparents showing up at the scene to hug them and hold them as I rushed to the hospital to be by his side. They will never forget.

The news spread quickly as this happened during pickup from my children’s school just blocks away. My wonderful friends texting prayers and love within minutes. It quickly became the top story on all of the local news stations. “Man Brutally Shot in Front of His Children.” No one should ever see their family as a headline. It’s horrifying to see images from a news helicopter of your children on the side of the road by your husband’s bullet-ridden car. There was no reason for this to happen.

Today, I think about the shooter and I am flooded with a range of emotions. I am angry, and sad, and frustrated, and wondering why it was my husband. This wasn’t the first offense. The man that did this has a rap sheet of violent crime, yet he was armed to the teeth. How is that possible? How were he and another man driving down the streets, weapons in their laps, looking for trouble? I have no problem with law-abiding citizens owning firearms, but how were the men involved in the shooting driving around both armed for an incursion? It’s bullshit. They nearly robbed my children of their father. They were trying to make me a widow. This never should have happened.

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We are not enforcing the laws that we have in place and the laws need to be stricter. Criminals should not have such easy access to guns so that they can go out and shoot someone in the middle of the afternoon. Background checks need to be enforced. And mental health information needs to be provided. We need to work hard to insure this senseless violence stops.

I think about our world and how we are living in such dark times. We are living in a society where there is no regard for human life. We are living in a world where people are constantly fighting with one another and not reaching a solution, so they take extreme measures to prove a point. We are living in a world where we walk around in fear. Fear of going to the grocery store, or the park, or just driving in our car. I hate living in fear.

What do I do? How do I heal from his nightmare? I don’t know if I ever really will. That day will be an anniversary for us. One that will be both haunting and grateful. A day that changed the trajectory of our family forever. The day my children lost their innocence and my safe little bubble was popped. It is the day I learned how fast life can change and how fragile it truly is.

I may never be able to forget, but I can open my heart to forgive. That’s easier to do because my husband is alive. I may not have been so willing if the outcome were different. I can pray for the victims of any type of violent crimes. I can lobby for stricter laws to prevent these things from happening. And I can thank God. I can be so unbelievably grateful that my family is intact. That we were saved that day. And I can hope for a world where there is less fear for myself and my children. I can teach my children that violence is never the answer and that anger gets you nowhere.

But what I can’t do is wish it away. It is real and it is happening and for a moment, it made me lose faith in society. It made me hate people and their angry decisions. It made me wonder how much worse the world is going to become? My hope is that no other family has to live through this. But if we don’t take the weapons from the hands of those unable to lawfully and respectively use them, we’ll never win. The violence will continue.

We have to stop this insanity. Criminals don’t need guns. Keep them out of their hands. Enforce our laws, make them stronger. Save our children from a world of fear and violence. Fight for what we believe in before another man is shot in front of his children. If we don’t now, nothing will ever change and it will only get worse. Trust me, you don’t want that call, you don’t want to be a headline. Let’s save ourselves, and our sweet, innocent kids from becoming a statistic.

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