Now that was strange, I thought.
Was that gunfire?
Yes, I thought I heard two very quick bursts of gunfire …
Rat a tat tat ...rat a tat tat ...
I was sleeping on my couch on Thanksgiving night and had the door leading to our deck open because it was so warm.
Actually, I wasn't fully asleep. I was tossing and turning because it's hard to sleep on my couch. My son, after a full Thanksgiving day — a day of much pumpkin pie and football — had fallen asleep next to my wife on our bed.
We're on a hill in Point Loma, so sound travels well from below us. That's why I heard what I thought was gunfire so clearly.
I sat up. I was confused. Gunfire?
Maybe I was mistaken. After all, I haven't heard gunfire all that often in my life. I don't own a gun. And this is peaceful, quiet Point Loma.
But does it really matter where you live …
As it turned out, two people were shot dead a few blocks away from me. And I heard it. I heard two quick, horrible, tragic deaths.
As I would learn later, a 22-year-old man, Peter Haynes, stands accused of shooting his parents, Lissa and David. David Haynes was an emergency room doctor.
I would learn that the son had a mental disorder. His sister told reporters he suffers from paranoid schizophrenia.
I felt horrible for this family. What a tragedy. Did they enjoy a nice, family Thanksgiving just hours before and then something terribly went wrong? Or was the day fraught with conflict and anger, as some family holidays can be.
How, why — at 3 a.m. — did this family implode in such a violent manner?
I also wondered:
How did this young man manage to get a gun?
I'm not a gun control advocate. This is America. The gun culture is too embedded. The gun lobby is too powerful.
But we have to get reasonable about gun ownership. It remains way too easy for people who shouldn't have guns to get them. Critics say background checks are woefully lacking in stopping mentally ill people from getting guns.
We all know about the string of horrific shootings, from the movie theatre massacre in Aurora, Col., to the rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn. Or how about the shooting at Virginia Tech or the one at the Washington Navy Yard or the two at Fort Hood? Or how about former Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Gifford, shot in the head in a shooting rampage that left six others dead and her with critical injuries?
I could name a dozen more, easily.
I don't know how Peter Haynes got a gun even though California has some of the tougher laws when it comes to restricting the mentally ill from having guns. But he had one.
And this time, the violence happened in my neighborhood. I heard it. I then heard the sirens and the racing police cars and, soon, the police helicopter overhead.
Of course, it was all over the news the next morning. My wife and I talked about it. She was playing Monopoly with my son, Jack. We should have been more careful about what we were saying, but we were caught up in the moment.
Jack got this look in his eyes. “I'm scared,” he said. We quickly calmed him down, saying he was perfectly safe. He went on playing the game.
But goodness, I thought.