DENTON, DALLAS AND THE AFTERMATH OF A SHOOTING

JEFF HOOD

Photo provided by Gessel Tobias, VOA. 

Photo provided by Gessel Tobias, VOA

The slam of the car door sent me scrambling last night. I ran down the street as fast as I could. I knew it was happening all over again. Throughout my body, adrenaline exploded.  The terror was back. When I finally stopped, I was alone. The dark streets of our neighborhood reminded me that I was still close to home. 


Jeff Hood. 

Jeff Hood. 

"Get in!" I don't know that I've ever been more happy to see someone. For hours, I didn't know where Emily was. We got separated after the shots. Everyone seemed to want to talk. "Dr. Hood will you pray with me?"  "Rev. Hood do you have time for a brief interview?" "Dr. Hood, can I talk to you about what happened?" Though I talked to everybody, I just wanted to find Emily. The adrenaline seemed to be what was keeping me going. I did a live interview on WFAA. Emily saw me and knew where to pick me up. When we finally got on the highway to go toward Denton, I was ready to get home.

I slept three hours that night. Early the next morning, I was on Good Morning America.  Immediately after that, I taped a segment for the CBS Evening News. The bright lights took their toll.  For the next few days, the interviews didn't stop. I was exhausted. I still hadn't been able to deal with what was happening. Though I felt that it was important to share a message of love and justice, I wasn't prepared for the aftermath. Thousands of threats poured in. Our address was posted online.  Eventually, Emily and our kids had to flee the area. Things slid out of control.  After a phone call, the Denton Police Department arrived at our home.

"I just want you to know that I'm here to protect you." "Our job is to make sure nothing happens to your family." "We're not going anywhere until you're safe." Officers repeatedly reminded us that they were here to protect us. While the rhetoric in the struggle against police brutality is often that all officers are bad, I found the officers I encountered in Denton to be very gracious. Only a few days prior, I'd led one of North Texas' largest rallies of the year against police brutality right before a lunatic killed five officers. These officers had every reason to hate me. They didn't. I was constantly reminded that none of this was my fault.  In the midst of the almost nine days that we were under their protection, I'll never forget repeatedly being reminded of four words, "This is our home." 

Two months after the tragedy, Dallas is still here. I think that might always be the case. Things have started to look slightly different. I cling to different. There is something salvific about different. Though I struggle to figure out where to go next, I know I have a home in Denton.