10 Years Later.
I remember where I was when I heard the news. My father was picking me up from football practice the summer before my sophomore year of high school. As I got into the passenger seat of the car, he relayed the news to me through tears and a shaky voice.
The remaining memories from the following weeks are spotty at best.
Crying with my church family in our ministry center's hallway.
Watching the news to catch any updates.
And, finally, standing outside of 560 N. Hamilton Ave. for a prayer vigil.
All of that was 10 years ago.
June 1, 2006.
The day the worst mass murder in Indianapolis occurred.
The day one of the families involved with my church (Shepherd Community Center) was lost.
The day that Alberto, David, Luis, Flora, Emma, Alberto, and Magno were senselessly murdered in a home invasion and robbery. (A summary of this tragedy can be found here.)
The 3 children who were lost that day were participants in the school and summer daycamp at Shepherd Community Center - and they were friends of my family.
The night - several days later - when I was standing outside their house for the prayer vigil, I had one thought running through my head. Like most teenagers, I was wrestling with my faith during that time in my life and June 2006 was when I made a life-defining decision:
That evening I decided to follow Jesus Christ, and the faith of my parents truly became my own.
While my journey has not nearly been as difficult as the family and closest friends (such as Jasmine), the cut on my heart has run deep from this tragedy.
It took me five years to get to the point of forgiving Desmond Turner for taking the lives of those 7 family members.
On the Sunday morning that I forgave him, I was in a church service where the pastor was challenging all of us there to surrender any baggage to God. To act this out in a very real way, we all were handed a piece of rice paper on which we could write down whatever we needed to give to God to heal us from - whether it was a sin, a wound, someone, or something.
My paper that morning had two words on it: Desmond Turner.
We then took turns walking to the front of the sanctuary and dropping our piece of rice paper into a large barrel of water. As soon as the paper hit the water, it dissolved and disappeared.
And just like that paper disappeared into the water, God healed the wound on my heart and provided me the strength to forgive Desmond for murdering 7 innocent adults and children.
But that is not to say that the scar that remains is exempt from any pain.
My heart still aches for the loss of each of them...
Every time I drive down Hamilton Avenue where their house once stood.
Every day as I drive past the Hardee's on Washington Street on my way to work (where Desmond surrendered to the police).
Every June 1st.
It's 10 years later, and the scars from that day still criss-cross throughout our city for all those impacted by the murders - from the friends and family to the neighbors and city leaders.
Scars remain. But so does healing.
(Here are the future plans for the lot where their house once stood.)
I pray healing continues for us all.