Last night I watched as my “small” town community experienced unimaginable horror like we’ve never experienced before. Last night I worried as my cousin, who was locked inside the mall for hours, feared for her life. It’s an experience that she, along with many others in this community will never be able to forget.

I was at the mall last night covering the developing story for our sister station, WJON. The scene was horrific—police lights lit up the night, the sounds of sirens filled my ears and the threat of the unknown grabbed me with fear.  The parking lot was filled with worried parents and family members desperate for answers. Inside the mall was a terror that I thank God I didn’t have to endure.  I can’t get the image of last night out of my mind.

Crossroads Center has always been a source of many great memories for me over the years. It’s the place that my family and I would spend our Sunday afternoons after church, it became the place I would go with my friends after school and eventually it became the place that I got my first job.

Last night is absolutely Earth shattering. Last evening changed the way I view this community. The attacker, whom I won’t name, took away my sense of safety and security. The attacker stole that pleasant feeling that I've always associated with the mall.  He took that from all of us. Today, the same mall that has been a source of pride and joy for the people of this town is an active crime scene.

I’m filled with a sense of great sadness and rage. I’m angry that something like this happened in the town that I live in. I’m livid that someone could live in this community, shop where we shop, eat where we eat, go to school where we go to school and out of nowhere unleash unthinkable havoc. I know that I'm supposed to be an example for everyone else to follow and urge people to forgive the attacker. But, I'm not ready to talk about forgiveness because I'm not sure that I'll ever truly be able to.

Right now, I’m praying for the victims and the victim’s families. To the man who was able to put a stop to the attacker, I want to say thank you. You are a true hero to me. If you want to do something for anybody today, do something for a police officer!