Updated October 15, 2018
I don't even remember what I was talking about to my wife that day as I walked across the living room. I made it to the hallway when out of the corner of my eye I saw a poof of dust and heard a bang. It was loud, but my first thoughts were electrical problems or a fire. Maybe someone left a can of cooking oil spray next to the stove and it exploded?
My wife told me to be careful as I tip toed sheepishly through the hallway to look into the kitchen. Nothing was wrong as far as I could see, but we could smell something already. That's when we thought it was a gunshot so we looked for a hole.
The metric tape shows the hole is about 25 mm, but the entire blow out from the ceiling was around 30 mm.
At that point I was beginning to panic. Did someone kill themselves? Are they going to keep shooting? That is when my wife handed me the phone. The 911 dispatcher explained that someone upstairs had just called and it was an accident. The police were on their way.
My plan was to leave immediately, but I was embarrassed by how slow I was getting ready. Eventually I gave up and waited for the police. Car after car after car of them came. One armed with a rifle another with a notepad. The police made sure everyone was okay and found the bullet lodged in concrete at the bottom of the apartment building.
There was a black car, a white car, and even an unmarked car. They were all there.
We waited outside as they detained what we thought was the shooter. The police made him turn around with his shirt lifted, but he wasn't the guy. It was the first of many disappointments we were about to have. The next one was watching everyone leave.
"That's it?" I asked the officer. He explained as an accident there was no intent so Tanner Hutton wasn't cited. The other one chimed in saying we could sue for emotional damages, but it would be like getting blood from a stone. Inside my mind I scoffed at the idea because what I wanted to see was him hauled away in cuffs. Besides, scaring you half to death doesn't count as harm in court.
Maybe the paper will tell my story.
That night still shaken up I realized the paper would put something in the blotter. I quickly wrote up a few paragraphs and sent them the photos I took. Several days later the paper told me my email got lost in the shuffle and a short bit was already printed. In other words it was old news. Chalk up another disappointment.
My next step was the county attorney's office where I tried in vain to explain why I wanted to see him before the police report was finished. When we were turned away I took a card and emailed him. It didn't matter because little did I know the case was already closed administratively by the police.
After that was the apartment manager. I was all ready to give her an earful, but she was already ahead of us. We were completely deflated when to our surprise she explained he was given an eviction notice over a week ago. He was already being kicked out before the gunshot. Tanner Hutton had escaped punishment again.
We have a whole folder for this incident.
We finally had the police report. Now it was time for the big reveal. The short version was one of Tanner Hutton's friends had cycled the action several times chambering a round the night before. That morning Tanner Hutton negligently picked up his rifle and put his finger on the trigger firing a round through the floor. It was a dry and straightforward account only the police could write.
The report states Tanner Hutton was extremely upset. The police aren't as colorful as regular people in their reports. Workers at the apartment told us he was bawling his eyes out. It was those final words that hit us the hardest. "This case is closed administratively" and "No citations can be issued in this case".
The trajectory cuts a path through where I talk to my wife while she cooks.
Now, several weeks later it seems the noise upstairs is gone and so is Tanner Hutton and his fiance. Looking back we were upset at everyone. When everything goes wrong all at once it's hard not to be mad, but everyone did their jobs. I remind myself that no matter who did what the only person to blame is the man who pulled the trigger Tanner Hutton. But wait, if this story is about him where was he? You would have to ask him because he has never talked to us.
I questioned if I should say anything. It was an accident right? We all make those, though some more than others. Except every time I see that now patched bullet hole I think of that day and how either of us could have been a cold body before Hutton would wipe the tears from his eyes and help us and how he was never punished for what he did. In the end I would have settled for something that doesn't cost a thing - an apology, but it's too late for that now.