Ten years ago, I became a mom for the first time to a baby boy. Three years later, my husband, Nate, and I welcomed a second child, a girl this time. Since then, it has become our duty to teach, love and protect our children.
In 2006, we moved to Minooka from San Antonio, Texas, to be closer to family. We settled in a small subdivision surrounded by farmland. I am an outdoorsy person who loves to hike and explore, so this location fit the bill.
Over the past 10 years that we have lived in this neighborhood, it has been safe. We have room to roam and can be at our favorite hiking spot in three minutes via winding tree-lined roads.
That comfort came to a screeching halt Feb. 20, when we found a large bullet hole in our kids’ bathroom.
We were gone from Feb. 18 to Feb. 20 and, upon returning home, my son went up to use his bathroom. He yelled down for me to come up because he found pieces of drywall, paint and wood shavings all over the toilet and floor.
We moved the towels, which hung over the toilet, and there was a hole with the drywall pushed up around it. At first, I thought maybe we had a mouse in the wall and it ate through the drywall. We had the kids leave the room and, when my husband further inspected, the reality of what it was made me instantly sweat. It was a bullet hole.
I walked outside in the hallway and escorted my kids into the family room to watch TV. The kids began to scream; they heard us and sensed our panic. My daughter wrapped herself in a blanket and looked at me with tears streaming down her face, yelling, "No, Mommy I'm scared!" My son was in shock, he looked blank and confused.
The police came and we were told we were the third house in two months to be hit by a bullet, not a surprise to us as a woman living two streets over begged and pleaded for answers on our subdivision Facebook page when this happened to her before Christmas.
After the police left, we were alone. With pure adrenaline, I hurriedly packed a bag of pajamas, my toothbrush and toothpaste, phone, charger, kids’ clothes and vitamins, and jumped into the car. We drove to our in-laws still in shock.
My mind swirled and that night I fell asleep wondering what was to become of our future. Tuesday morning, we woke up 30 minutes early so we could drive home, get the kids ready for school and get on with our day.
That’s when reality set in. I went up to my kids’ bathroom, moved the towels out of the way and just stared at the bullet hole in the wall.
I shook and sobbed, realizing that if we had been home, I could have sent one of my kids to go to the bathroom or take a shower and upon checking to see if they needed help, I could have found them dead on the floor.
That runs through my head at least 100 times per day; it’s debilitating.
That day, I went to the grocery store, numb as I walked up and down every aisle with zero purpose of what to buy to eat for dinner. My face was bright red and hot, I could feel my heartbeat throughout my body and I felt faint – my blood pressure was sky high.
By Wednesday I was angry. I was searching online for a new place to live. Everything was more expensive or too big or too small. I felt like Goldilocks trying to find the perfect bed.
I thought I was going to have to pull my kids out of their schools to move, pull them away from their neighborhood friends and us from a place we have lived for the past 10 years.
Wednesday night, I dropped off my kids at church group and I drove around the neighborhood, wondering if someone living among us did this. Then I drove around in the country, wondering if one of these homes housed the person who robbed us of our life.
This person robbed us of our home, our comfort, safety, livelihood, finances, schools, friends and the list goes on. One thing it won’t rob me of is my faith.
See, the reason why we were gone was because, last minute, a friend called and asked if we would come if she flew us down to Texas for her daughter’s birthday. We never leave for the weekend, we never leave. We left that weekend and it was a God thing.
Each hour of every day, I pray for a new situation. I pray the person is caught or fesses up to being irresponsible. See, the bullet came from above, someone shooting up into the air.
I pray that we stay safe and that when I hear a noise and jump up to check on the kids, that I don’t find a nightmare. I pray another bullet doesn’t hit my husband or myself while we watch TV, or sleep. I pray that we find resolution and that I can live without panic and fear, because we don’t deserve this torture.
Our subdivision is in Minooka, but the surrounding areas are considered Kendall County property, so the Minooka Police Department and the Kendall County Sheriff's Department are in charge of the case.
Minooka Police Chief Justin Meyer confirmed in a phone interview Monday that the police department, investigators and the sheriff's department are working together to solve the case. Meyer said he believes the bullet came from the north outside of the subdivision in unincorporated property near Minooka.
Letters were sent to 150 residents in unincorporated Kendall County near Minooka, which verified that they do have a legal right to shoot and hunt on personal property, while within state laws, but need to be cognizant of where the bullets are going, and can face penalties.
“After sending the letters, we have had a good response from residents in the unincorporated area. Hopefully people will cooperate. Some people just don’t realize how far bullets can travel, especially if they are inexperienced,” Meyer said.
• Allison Selk is a Shaw Media correspondent.