Why I Have to Explain What a “shooter” is to My 4 Year Old

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Yesterday was a day I will never forget. It’s a day that started out like any other and ended like none other. I am still processing it and still feeling all the feels. So many of you have reached out to me so I wanted to share what happened here in this space. I feel like this will be the easiest way for people to ingest it on their own time. Below is a recap of my day yesterday followed by some thoughts and feelings. Some of this was written yesterday (writing helps me express and process my feelings), and some was written today.


Like I said, yesterday started out like a normal Sunday. I was at home with my family doing normal Sunday things. After lunch we put Abby down and I left to run errands. I took Emma Grace with me as I thought it would be fun to have a little alone time with her even though we weren’t doing anything glamorous.

We went to the mall to return a couple of items and ended up having a great time. We listened to a high school band perform in the mall, got some back to school clothes from the Janie and Jack sale, and looked at all the Playhouses on display for Dallas CASA. Then it was time for our final and favorite errand – Costco! We love sampling all the food and we knew it would be fun just the two of us – a rare occurrence.


When we got there it was packed. Typical Sunday afternoon crowd and maybe even a little more because of the holiday. So, I got our cart, put Emma Grace in it, and we started our usual loop around Costco.

I remember we had made it all the way to the back left section of the store – the part with La Croix and sparkling water. I remember pushing Emma Grace toward the end of the aisle and as I looked up I saw a family of grown children and parents sprint passed the aisle. I recall thinking how odd that was to see grown kids sprint by. Then I saw what seemed like the ENTIRE store rushing toward the back of the building.


I wheeled my cart out into the chaos and tried to ask what was going on. A man next to me yanked Emma Grace out of the cart and handed her to me while another woman I don’t know handed me my purse. Then someone said “run, there’s a shooter in the store.” My heart sank and my adrenaline and mom strength kicked into over drive. I didn’t allow my head to go there, but for a split second I thought – oh my gosh, this could be our last moments.

As we walked briskly through the back of the store (they wouldn’t let us run due to the possibility of trampling people), Emma Grace was oblivious. I remember her commenting on how cool the back looked. I agreed it looked so neat while thinking “I hope I never have to see the back of this store again.” I remember telling myself to just get to the door, just get out. Keep a smile on my face for Emma Grace.

We made it out of the store and I guess I hadn’t processed further than that, but people were still running as far as they could. There was a cement wall about 4-5 feet tall and a man was helping people over it. He grabbed Emma Grace and lifted her up and then helped me. Emma Grace was confused at this point and asked what we were doing. I told her we were going to have a little race and see how fast we could run. I just wanted to get as far away as possible. We ran about 1/2 a mile to a gas station. Once there we walked inside, sat down, and I called my husband to come pick us up. This is when I noticed how much I was shaking. I also becoming keenly aware of how intently Emma Grace was searching for answers by looking at my face.

I kept a smile on my face, kept my sunglasses on for fear of crying, and tried to keep my hands still. Emma Grace had heard someone say “run, there’s a shooter in the building,” so she kept asking me questions. Is there a shooter? Why is there a shooter? Is he chasing us? Can he get us here? Can he see us? Why does he or she (yes, she really did say he or she and I do remember being like “way to go girl, haha”) want to hurt people?


My husband got to us in about 5 minutes, drove us home, and once inside our home, told me to go take a minute in our room. At that point I allowed myself to feel all the feels. Tears poured, the shaking continued, and I began to process what just happened. I was so incredibly grateful we were okay. I prayed prayers of thanks like you wouldn’t believe. Thankful that we were near the back of the store because running with a 4 year old is not easy. Thankful for the man and woman that helped me with EG and my purse. Thankful we were in the back of the store and got out quickly. Thankful we were home and safe. I also started praying for everyone else’s safety because at this point we had no idea what was going on.


Hours later the truth of the story was revealed via the news. As we understand it, 4 men walked in to Costco with masks. One had a pick axe and at least one had a visible gun. The “shots” heard by people were actually the pick axe hitting the glass of a jewelry counter. The men came to steal jewelry. They succeeded in their mission and left without harming anyone. I believe they still have not been caught. I can’t tell you how happy I am about this being the case instead of a mass shooting.


This excerpt was the first thing I wrote down yesterday:

It’s an hour after Emma and I fled from Costco. I’m sitting in my room shaking, crying, allowing myself to feel all the scary feels of feeling like you may die or worse, your child may die. 

I can barely read the screen through my tears but know I have to keep writing. I have to work through my emotions before I walk back into the living room with Emma Grace. 

[Summarizing this next paragraph because there are some strong feelings I wrote down that I will spare the internet right now. – The gist of this portion of my journal states that I was disgusted at myself for being apathetic to gun control issues. I never chose to read and learn specifics because I didn’t think it would effect me. I am aware and have always been that in Texas you can carry a gun anywhere you like. I feel very strong feelings about this now and am also embarrassed that I have never given this issue much thought. I know this tends to happen – you don’t form strong opinions about things until something hits close to home, but it doesn’t make that okay.]

But feeling that adrenaline high, that fear kick in, you can never erase that from your memory. The fact that someone can even walk into a GROCERY store with a gun where I take my daughter to shop is completely insane to me. 

The fact that my 4 yr old daughter has already lived through an evacuation because of a shooter is sick. The fact that I have to explain to my 4 year old what a shooter is is sick. The fact that I have to explain what “shooter” is before I even have the “birds and the bees” talk is so sad to me.


I processed my emotions for awhile and then went out to play with the girls. I didn’t spend one second away from them the rest of the day. I knew Emma Grace would continue to ask questions as she processed what happened, and I just prayed for wisdom with how I would answer them.

As we tucked Emma Grace into bed, the flood of questions came. Why was there a man/men with guns? What were they doing? What did they steal? Were they stealing necklaces for their wives because they couldn’t afford them? (that was the cutest question) Will the gunman find us at our house? Is he looking for us?

We explained to her the story of Adam and Eve again. We explained that they were made perfect, in God’s image, but that they brought sin into the world when they disobeyed God. We explained that sins take many forms. That there is bad in this world and there is sadness and hurt. We explained too, that our God is good. Things can be bad AND our God can be good. We explained that He sent his son Jesus to die on the cross so that our sins can be forgiven and we can live eternally with God in heaven. We explained that even robbers can be forgiven. We prayed for the 4 robbers, we forgave them, and we prayed someone would come into their lives that knows God and that someday they would too.


I know this was long and thank you guys so much for taking time to read this story. I hope it’s not too much of a downer, but know a lot of you were curious what happened. Thanks again for all your kinds DMs, texts, and calls! Y’all are truly an awesome, loving community.

The final thought I’ll leave with is one my friend shared with me today. That even though the situation was bad, you can still find the good. The man that handed me Emma Grace, the woman that handed me my purse, the young man at the gas station that bought Emma Grace a water because she looked red, etc. I will choose to see the positive amidst the evil. My God is still good.