Daily Egyptian

Opinion: A Daily Egyptian reporter was at the party where someone was shot Sunday morning. Here’s what she heard and saw

By Tierra Carpenter, @Tierramc_

Saturday night I was at a party with a friend and everything was going fine until a dispute arose, something that is becoming quite common of parties and events at SIU.

Everyone from the back of the living room started rushing away from the incident toward the next closest door in the kitchen of the house at 402 W. Walnut St. What I initially thought was a fight turned out to be more when I heard someone yell, “He has a gun!”

The need to get out of the house became much more urgent.

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People began running toward the door creating a stampede. They were trying to force their way through the crowd, and by the time many of us got close to the kitchen door, we were forced into a pile on the floor by the momentum from the people behind us.

MORE: One dead, another wounded after gunfire at Carbondale party

At that moment I almost felt more safe. I thought if someone were to shoot toward us, there would be a lesser chance I would be hit because I was near the bottom of the pile.

The people from the back of the room were still rushing out of the kitchen door, not caring if people on the floor were getting trampled in the process.

After a minute or two, I got up and regained my balance in my 5-inch-heel boots.

I looked for the best way to exit, which was no longer the kitchen door because there was a still crowd of people trying to get out of it. 

Someone had already broken a kitchen window as their form of escape, but I just didn’t see that as the safest option, considering the window could’ve been at least 10 feet off the ground.

There was no longer a sign of a gunman, who I assume must have made his way out through the kitchen door while I was on the ground. I followed some other people out the living room door, hopped off the porch and started running in the direction of my car.

This is when I heard about 10 gunshots ring out, and they sounded extremely close. I had no idea if one was going to hit me. I had no idea who or where they were coming from.

I just kept running.

MORE: How safe do you feel in Carbondale? Join the conversation here.

Eventually my friend and I made it back to my car, and I came to the realization that I probably won’t be attending many more house parties, or any for that matter.

Two people who did not attend SIU ended up being shot, one fatally.

These parties no longer seem like a fun or safe way to spend my weekend.

After experiencing a couple similar incidents in different settings, including on-campus events, I would think the hosts of these gatherings would start enforcing better safety precautions. These could include always checking people for weapons, limiting capacity and not allowing non-SIU students to attend events because they seem to usually be the problem starters.

If you’re going to throw events for students the main focus shouldn’t be a packed event. It should be the safety of students, and that sometimes means being a little more strict.

There was a fight during a stroll competition two months ago in the Student Center, and a fight in Lawson Hall during a variety show last April — I attended each and they both had very high attendance.

As a college student with a pretty full schedule, I’ve barely made it out on the weekends this year. And as someone under the age of 21, the selection of parties and events on most nights is quite limited.

It’s unfortunate that when I do decide to go out there often seems to be some kind of violent, night-ruining incident in Carbondale. The city joins college towns such as De Kalb and Champaign in the top 20 of Illinois’ most dangerous cities, according to a lawstreetmedia.com list of violent crime rates in the state using data from 2013. Carbondale ranks as the fourth-most dangerous — the highest of any college town on the list. 

This is something I wish I would’ve known before I enrolled here, but of course that’s not something you learn at an open house.

If unfortunate events like this continue happening there’s no telling how high the crime rates in Carbondale will get, and how much danger innocent students and community members will face in the future.

Tierra Carpenter, a sophomore from Lansing studying radio, television and digital media, is a reporter at the Daily Egyptian.

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