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Hi, I'm Tamera, a professional wedding, portrait and boudoir photographer in Colorado Springs. But this blog isn't about my professional work; no, it's a daily love note to my beautiful city, where I've lived for most of my life. I love it here and I hope you enjoy seeing Colorado Springs through my eyes and lens!

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07 November 2015

A sad addendum

Last Sunday, November 1st, was Theme Day for City Daily Photo bloggers. If you're a regular follower of this blog, you know that on the first of each month, all the CDP bloggers post pictures from their city of a common subject. November's theme was ephemeral, and I posted a number of photos of roadside memorials. The text of the post reflected on the ephemeral quality of life. To quote myself, "no matter how long someone lives, it almost always seems not long enough." I had pre-blogged the post days earlier, scheduling it to "go live" early Sunday morning, since I knew in advance that I'd be out of town. Little did I know that my musings would be posted in the aftermath of a mass shooting in my own city.

Saturday the 31st was another beautiful fall day. The gorgeous, unseasonably warm weather had held up for Halloween. For reasons we'll never understand, Noah Harpham got out of bed that fine morning, gathered up his guns, went outside, and killed anyone that he saw. His first victim was a guy who just happened to be cycling past, 35 year old Iraq war veteran Andrew Myers. The neighbors, who had called the police when they noticed Harpham pacing around armed, bore witness to a man begging for his life. He was gunned down on the spot. Then Harpham took off toward Platte Avenue, a block north. For those unfamiliar with the city: Platte Avenue is a major street with heavy traffic at any time of day. Harpham headed west on Platte, soon coming across two women who had the unfortunate luck of being on their front porch at that moment. He immediately murdered Jennifer Vasquez, 42, and Christina Baccus-Galella, 34. Both women were in recovery from drug or alcohol addiction. They were residents of the sober living home upon whose porch they were killed.

Harpham then made his way toward Wahsatch and Platte, a busy intersection with a Wendy's restaurant on the corner. It was there that the police caught up with him. A brief gunfight ensued, and Harpham was killed. (It bears mentioning that the Palmer High School gymnasium is "catty corner" from the Wendy's. If this had happened on a weekday, there would have been dozens of students about.)

None of these people deserved to die the way they did. Mr Myers had survived three tours in Iraq, only to be gunned down as he rode his bike in a quiet neighborhood in Colorado Springs. Ms. Vasquez and Ms. Baccus-Galella had both worked hard to conquer their addictions. They had hope for their respective futures. I'm outraged and I'm sad. This is the kind of incident that you read about in the news -- happening in some other city. Not your own city. I didn't blog about it until now because I was so angry. I had no stomach for making photographs of the crime scene. It took me until Thursday to will myself to do it. As I drove to Harpham's house, I kept an eye on my car's odometer. Exactly 1.8 miles from my front door to his. It was easy to locate, because a memorial to Mr. Myers was sitting right in front of it -- a sad addendum to my Theme Day post. The neighborhood is called Deaf and Blind, because the Colorado School for the Deaf and Blind sits in the middle of it. I shudder to think if Harpham had headed east instead of west. It could have been even more horrible. Too horrible to contemplate.

As I snapped pictures, a TV news reporter stood a few yards away, talking 
dramatically into a camera and gesturing toward the house. Meanwhile, cars drove slowly down this normally quiet street lined with 100 year old bungalows. Each driver paused before 230 North Prospect to stare. To see where the monster had lived, where he had claimed his first victim. One guy in a black Audi drove past, then went around the block and did it again. He stopped his car to ask me, "Is that the house?" I can only describe the expression on his face as sickened, dumbfounded. When I confirmed that he was correct, he said what we've all been thinking: that he had lived here all of his life, and he can't believe that something like this happened in our city. All I could do was nod in agreement.

The warm weather held until yesterday. Then the wind came. It's winter now.

Mr. Harpham lived upstairs in this unassuming old home. It looks like it might have originally been a mercantile of some sort.
A note on the gate addresses the police, giving them a phone number to call for access to Harpham's apartment.


Lois said...

A very sad post Tamera. I read about this on the news. It is horrific. It brought back memories of a similar incident that happened in my own neighborhood just last year when a man set his house on fire, called 911 and then ambushed the first police officer who responded, killing him instantly. The man proceeded to walk down the street firing his gun while people cowered in their houses, until an off duty officer who lived across the street ran out and shot him dead. No telling how many people in my neighborhood would have been killed had it not been for that brave officer. I used to walk around my neighborhood every day. It was raining that morning or I would have been walking. The foundation of the burned down house is still sitting there now at the end of a cul de sac. I refuse to go down there and I don't walk in my neighborhood anymore. It makes me sick. Just two days after that incident, a gunman walked into the library on the FSU campus and starting shooting at students. The campus police were able to respond and kill him pretty quickly, but not before he shot several students, one of which is now paralyzed for the rest of his life. It is now very likely that the Florida legislature will be passing laws to allow open carry of firearms in this state and to allow college students to carry guns on state university campuses. I am so glad to be retired, since I worked on the FSU campus for over 35 years.

William Kendall said...

A maniac with a gun. He more than deserves that spot in hell he's now inhabiting.

Susan Bauer said...

Another of a too long string of unfortunate incidents with guns. They never end well.

Tamera said...

Lois, I remember both of those incidents very clearly (and I remember thinking of you both times!). I'm so sorry you were so negatively affected. A person should be able to walk around their neighborhood without worrying about armed maniacs.

There don't seem to be any solutions that our country can affect, unfortunately. If a magic genie offered me one wish, I'd wish that all the guns in the universe would just disappear.


Lois said...

I would make that same wish Tamera.

Linda said...

So sad, a tragedy for all.

Kate said...

What more can be said?! I am so sorry that we live in a society where too many guns are commonplace and are used in senseless acts of violence. Our deaths at the hands of people with guns is a disgrace and a worldwide embarrassment.