Such a pretty day.

Sue Gremlin

Piney
Sep 13, 2005
1,247
208
58
Vicksburg, Michigan
On Friday, I witnessed a random shooting. It was as if I had a front row seat to it. I took a rare day off from work and went to the beach in South Haven, MI. I hadn't been to any beach since before the pandemic.

The kid (and he was just a kid, only 19) sat with his back against the base of the lighthouse, facing the water, a backpack between his feet. At once, he stood up and fired at a couple standing at the very end of the pier who I later learned were husband and wife. They lay there while he continued to walk around on the pier, making his way toward the beach. He walked around in circles on the pier, strutting, really, with a pistol in each hand, Yosemite Sam-style, randomly firing. He was firing at people. At people.

He shot a waverunner that was being ridden near the pier, but didn't hit the person riding it, not for lack of trying. He shot at a man he spotted recording him with his phone from across the inlet. I think he must have shot toward us on the beach. I really don't know. There were so many people in the water. So many kids. He must have stopped a few times to reload, since there were long pauses between bursts of fire

I sat there in my chair, toes in the sand. It was such a pretty day.

I made a series of decisions Friday that I can’t help but to think about over and over. Decisions that put me right in front of it, center stage. I wondered if I should even go to the beach, it was so hot and I was already a little sunburned. I decided in favor of the beach because it was a beautiful, hot summer day, I had taken the day off from work specifically to go to the beach, and I thought I'd stop at the farm stand on M-43 on my way back to get some more of those delicious heirloom tomatoes (and delicious they are. Holy cow).

I pulled up to the same beach I went to the day before, but at the last minute I decided to change it up. I drove out of the way to go to the main beach there, South Beach, the one with the pier and lighthouse. It's so pretty, and it's really neat to see all the boats and ships cruising out to the lake through the waterway and past the pier. It was such a pretty day.

As I walked toward the water, a family was just leaving the beach with their stuff. Score! This was a real stroke of luck because the beach was very crowded, and they had just vacated a prime spot. I set up camp right at the water's edge next to the pier and then jumped in the fauxcean (Props to my friend Linda) and swam out toward the lighthouse to hydrate my mermaid scales (more props to Linda) before heading back to read and relax and enjoy the zen yet noisy, kid-filled atmosphere of the beach. After I dried off a little, I was thinking I’d put down my book and take a stroll down the pier, it was such a pretty day.

I picked up my phone and snapped a photo of a seagull standing next to me and posted it on Facebook. My book was really engrossing, so I picked it up and started one more chapter. I have heard so many times that life can change in the blink of an eye, and I understood, but it's a lot clearer to me now just how true that is. The gunshots sounded like a pack of firecrackers, they were that fast and close together. I saw a bunch of kids running from the pier, and thought "Naughty boys, setting off fireworks". I smiled and looked back at my book.

I saw it, but I didn't really see it. I sat and watched it all, but I was just not absorbing or comprehending any of it. A gun was absolutely the furthest thing from my mind, even though I could clearly see a man lying motionless on his side in a weird position at the end of the pier, right in front of me. In fact, I snapped a photo of the pier because it was so pretty. I looked at it later and realized the man was in the photo, laying there at the end of the pier. Motionless. (Lifeless).

I am not sure how long I sat there, knowing something was up but not really knowing. Time is a funny thing. If you’ve ever been in a car accident, you understand how it can suddenly become plastic and malleable. It would be impossible for me to say how long I sat there after I heard the first shots. I would not be surprised if you told me it was a full 5 minutes before I truly got it.

It felt as thick as flowing honey, the realization of what was occurring right in front of me. Slow, pleasant, steady. Even while hearing people screaming at their kids to get out of the water, and even while watching people all around me get up and run, it was such a perfect summer day at the beach. The sky was so blue and the water was so warm and clear.

It came to me all at once like a big slap when I heard someone say the word “gun”. Life suddenly, jarringly returned to real-time. I heard more gunshots as I ran up the beach. With several dozen people and their kids, I huddled behind sand-filled bagsters that are meant to control flooding, and which doubled as a conveniently located bullet-proof wall.

A police officer ran by at full tilt while yelling "We still have an active shooter" into his radio. His voice was shaking and he sounded absolutely terrified while he ran right toward the pier as fast as he could. I think that's about the time we heard the final gunshot. The police are the ones who tell us to remain calm, not to panic and walk in an orderly fashion, aren’t they? But of course, they are just like everyone else. Of course they are. Of course they are.

What could have been my last ever photo.

upload pic

A self portrait taken at the pier in 2011 with our kite cam.
 

Ben Ruset

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Oct 12, 2004
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www.benruset.com

NJSRR

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Jan 27, 2008
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"Ingalls three years ago had been accused of planning to shoot up Paw Paw High School, police said. Police investigated after the teen’s grandfather found evidence that Ingalls, who had been at his home, had sawed off two shotguns and stole them. He called the teen’s mother, who found the firearms and brought her son to the Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department.....................she believed that the teen intended to follow through. In the journal, he had compiled a list of 27 people, including students and staff, on what prosecutors called a hit list."

Whoever sold him his gun this time, or helped him buy it..........lock them up and throw away the key.
 

Sue Gremlin

Piney
Sep 13, 2005
1,247
208
58
Vicksburg, Michigan
Very sorry you had to witness that. Troubled youth and guns are a dangerous combination.

Don't move to Philly. Stay far away from there.
We're not outrunning the guns, I don't think it's possible to do that anymore no matter where we end up. My hard-learned life lesson from this is that life is VERY short and it's pointless to live it in a way that doesn't make you happy if you have any control over it. We do.
We are talking about locating to Swedesboro, but we have to solidify plans.
 

Sue Gremlin

Piney
Sep 13, 2005
1,247
208
58
Vicksburg, Michigan
"Ingalls three years ago had been accused of planning to shoot up Paw Paw High School, police said. Police investigated after the teen’s grandfather found evidence that Ingalls, who had been at his home, had sawed off two shotguns and stole them. He called the teen’s mother, who found the firearms and brought her son to the Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department.....................she believed that the teen intended to follow through. In the journal, he had compiled a list of 27 people, including students and staff, on what prosecutors called a hit list."

Whoever sold him his gun this time, or helped him buy it..........lock them up and throw away the key.
Yeah. I need answers about why this man had access to guns. I need to know this in order to move on, so I hope I get them. I also need to see the live camera footage from the pier, as macabre as that sounds, so I can get an idea of the time it took from start to finish. I already had a front row seat to the live show in living color, so seeing it again on video won't be a problem for me.
 

Sue Gremlin

Piney
Sep 13, 2005
1,247
208
58
Vicksburg, Michigan
Sorry you had to see this.
Thanks. Me too. And I am sorry for all of those kids who had to see it, too. A little boy of about four sitting next to me behind the sand bags kept asking his mother why the bad guy got dead, and she kept shusshing him. He's been on my mind a lot this weekend. He just wanted answers. I wanted so much to put him in my lap. All I could do was to tell him he was ok, we were all ok, and everything would be ok.
 

gipsie

Explorer
Sep 14, 2008
522
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atlantic county
Thanks. Me too. And I am sorry for all of those kids who had to see it, too. A little boy of about four sitting next to me behind the sand bags kept asking his mother why the bad guy got dead, and she kept shusshing him. He's been on my mind a lot this weekend. He just wanted answers. I wanted so much to put him in my lap. All I could do was to tell him he was ok, we were all ok, and everything would be ok.
I am sorry you had to experience this Sue. It is hard to come up with an explanation as an adult let alone to try to explain it to a child. If seeing footage and getting answers is what you need to process and move on then that is what you need to do. Everyone processes differently and there is no wrong way to do it.
New Jersey will be glad to have you back though! I believe I still have one of your geocaches out there....
 

Sue Gremlin

Piney
Sep 13, 2005
1,247
208
58
Vicksburg, Michigan
So we're looking for a house out your way. We want at least 5 private acres, set back from the road, with a barn. I'd absolutely love any leads you might have. The market is crazy at the moment!
 

Boyd

Administrator
Site Administrator
Jul 31, 2004
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Ben's Branch, Stephen Creek
You might look in Atlantic County. After the collapse of Atlantic City, real estate prices really tanked here, my house dropped about 35% according to Zillow at the peak but is almost back to what I paid now. I have no intention of moving and have not shopped around, but I'm guessing prices around here are probably still a bit lower than other parts of South Jersey. Before the pandemic, the kind of place you want would have been a real bargain around here.

I'm South of Mays Landing and West of the Great Egg Harbor River. Guessing you'll find lots of places that fit your criteria, some (most?) of the towns have minimum lot sizes of 5 acres. Lots of openspace too, 40% of my town (Estell Manor) is public land for example.
 
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