Surrounded by Guns!
Occasionally my mind would race ahead to Ben’s upcoming trip. He and some buddies were going to spend a week sightseeing in New York City. I had vague motherly thoughts that this might be a little dangerous.
We were waiting for the last half hour to pass before his friends would arrive to drive him to the airport when I was suddenly aware of a loud thrumming noise overhead.
“I hear a helicopter,” I said and went to look out the back window. I was quite shocked to see three or more deputies in my back yard aiming guns into the woods behind our house! We looked out the front window and saw several sheriffs’ cars parked on the street and many uniformed men and women crisscrossing our lawn.
About 10:00 that morning in Kissimmee, a man had stolen a car while the owner was inside a convenience store. Kissimmee police followed the suspect into Orange County and down our dead end street. The fugitive, a 29-year-old man, jumped out of the car in our neighbor’s driveway and ran into the woods through our backyard.
It was so ironic to me that I had been a little concerned about Ben going to NYC for a week and here we were surrounded by a SWAT team in quiet little suburbia! It was a good reminder to me that we are safe in God’s hands wherever we are!
Ben and I prayed together and stayed calm. I’m so grateful I was not out for my usual walk that morning and that the man did not run into someone’s house and create a hostage situation! He ran right through our yard; our door had been unlocked that morning!
Our back yard was the center of attention initially. I called my neighbor, Jean, to see if she was okay.
“What did you do?” she teased. The entire block was on lockdown and dozens of deputies were up and down the street.
Ben was on the phone trying to work out an arrangement with his friends, but they had to fly on to New York without him.
After several hours, I called Mike and had him meet Josh and Jenny at the school bus stop. They were unable to walk five houses down to our home, so Mike took them to our local branch library.
Looking out our side door about 20 minutes later, the police prepared to leave without arresting the man. After being on lockdown in the house for four hours, Ben and I quickly ran outside to catch the next available flight with the plan to meet his friends at JFK airport in New York. As soon as we got to the car with his suitcases, about four news station reporters and cameramen descended on us and interviewed us for several minutes before we drove off.
Somehow, the fugitive managed to be undetected by the helicopters and police dogs. Only five minutes after the police left, he walked out of the woods four houses down from us as if nothing had happened. He was armed, but, thankfully, didn’t hurt anyone. Younger school children were coming home by then, as well.
When I returned from the airport and had picked up Josh and Jenny, a sheriff’s helicopter was circling our block again. I found out later that a policewoman and her dog found the fugitive hiding under a van on the next street over.
We watched several different newscasts with aerial views of our neighborhood and other interesting footage later that day. The editors just kept one sentence of my interview which was on the Channel 9 evening news that night. First, they showed Ben and me driving off to the airport. The reporter had asked if we were scared so they aired one sentence of the interview where I answered that we were not frightened and explained, “We prayed to the Lord Jesus and then watched the police do their job.”
We’re very grateful to God for His protection and to our friends and family for their prayers for us! We were not really surrounded by guns, but by God and by prayers!
NOTE: This significant event in the Schmitt family occurred on August 7, 2005.