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Let me share with you my story. It was supposed to be a regular night, I would finish work, go to the parking lot and my mom would drive me home. This night was different, this night changed my life forever. On June 3, 2011, I sat like a zombie in the passenger seat, exhausted from a long day at work. Just five minutes away from home, and approaching the intersection near the self storage, my mother and I find something strange about a car nearby. It was parked. A white male got out of his car while pulling up his pants. He lifted one arm, and he seemed to be have holding something. His cold eyes stared our way. Before I could distinguish what it was, it was too late. It happened so fast. Numerous shots were being fired towards us and the sound of glass shattering. I found myself crouched to the very bottom of the floor of the car, my heart pounding rapidly. The fear that I felt was so real and so strong. I was sure that this man was going to come to the car and check if everyone was dead. He would see that I was alive and surely shoot me. I was relieved as soon as I heard car wheels screeching away. I quickly looked up to my mother and noticed that the car was rolling. I grabbed the steering wheel, not thinking, and turned it all the way to the right and the car hopped the curb and hit a pole. Immediately I heard dripping noises. I was scared that I may have caused a leak to the car and my initial thought was that I have to get mom out of here. I attempted to open the front passenger door and back doors but could not because of the shock, I did not think about unlocking the doors. I lean over to the driver seat and open the door just to realize that the dripping noises is not from a car leak, it was blood coming from my mom. Emotions overwhelming me, scared, angry, upset and hopeful. I was not given enough time to even think. I frantically reach for my phone and dial 911. They asked me for information that required me to think, which I could not do at the time and I was getting very frustrated. I pleaded for them to hurry. The operator told me to put pressure on where the blood was coming from. I thought the blood was coming from her neck and attempted to press my mom's sweater onto her neck. My shoulder is now holding my phone to my ear. My hands become warm because of all the blood flowing onto them. I desperately try to keep the phone between my ear and shoulder but as soon as the operator tells me not to hang up, the phone slips and falls. I called out to my mom repeatedly, “Mom” “Mommy” but I got no response. I notice that she was breathing but it was very different. It was loud and sounded as if she was struggling to breath. I was just thankful that she was breathing. This is where the hopeful emotion peers through. I thought to myself that if we get her to the hospital, she will be okay. The doctors are amazing. They can do anything and everything. The breathing had long gaps in between them. I was
afraid that the previous breath she took would've been her last. So after every breath I would feel relieved only to be terrified a millisecond after, and the emotions would repeat. The ambulance finally arrives, which seems like an eternity. I grab my phone that was once perfectly white, but now all covered in blood, to call my dad and then my sister, the only thing I could say was, “Mom's been shot!” I remember a firefighter giving me a wipe to wipe off the blood from my arms, hands and phone. I sat in the passenger seat of the ambulance and actually had time to settle my emotions. Only, I felt no emotions. I felt empty. I could not even hear the sirens blaring above my head. It was quiet and I was alone. When I sat in the hospital room my thoughts began racing back and forth. I would think about how she was going to be okay, then it would switch the the exact opposite. Regret starts to fill up in my body. If she did not pick me up from work, she would be okay. If I did not agree to stay 30 minutes later at work, we could have avoided this. Family and friends start to fill the room. Walls are being punched and tears are flowing. We finally get the news that our mother has been shot in the head and would not make it and the only things keeping her alive right now are the machines. The doctor informs us that she would be moved to the ICU where we can all go see her. We all go upstairs and sit in the waiting room. We have already been waiting for more than five hours and it was truly unbearable. I mean, I was 16 at the time, how do I handle something like this. We finally get to see her and the doctors tell us that the machines have been turned off. We call our brothers from Vegas and Japan, holding the phone to my mom's ear for them to say their last goodbyes. We stand around her, all of us holding a part of her arms or legs, just to wait. To watch her leave before our very own eyes. The tears do not stop. They only became heavier once the machine informs us that she has stopped breathing. One by one, we are forced to say our painful goodbyes. I hold onto her hand, hoping so badly that she would squeeze mines back. Just to be disappointed. I started to feel an intense pain in my heart. When we walked out of the hospital it was pouring rain as if everyone was mourning with us, even God. The familiar drive home was not so familiar anymore. It was much different. Everything was different. We arrived at the house and it did not look the same to me anymore. I walk through the door and there they were. My mom's pink fuzzy house slippers that I bought for her awhile ago as a gift. Tears begin to fill my eyes again. I walk up to my room and see stacks of neatly folded clothing on my bed. “Mom” I thought to myself, and bursted into tears. Now, let me tell you what kind of person my mother was. First of all, I rarely ever called my mom, “mom” or “mother” it was usually “mommy” since I was young to until she passed. She cared about others more than she cared about herself. She was very
kind and was always giving, even if she did not have much to give. She is a hard worker and raised all ten of us. Always at home, cooking, cleaning and watering her plants. She was stubborn and never asked for help or accepted our help. She did not work but she wanted to try her best to provide for the family. She would sell her own jewelery so she can send money back home to her parents in Vietnam. She would go around and collect cans. When she would exchange the cans for money, she would bring spring rolls for the workers. Her cooking was amazing, and whenever she did cook she would offer some to our neighbors. She is always saying hi to everyone she passes. She was the type of mom that would be so angry with you if you did not take an umbrella with you whenever you left the house. She would go to church every single Sunday. Every night she would gathered who ever is home and lead us in a prayer. She was very forgiving. She was always the most happiest when she could have the family all get together. Her love for us is so strong, I do not think anyone can find anyone as loving as her. And what makes me angry, is that if my mother were to run into Stangel, at some different time, she would be kind to him, say hi and even offer him some of the food she has cooked. He had no idea of how great of a person she is and was heartless and took her from me, from us. Why did he do it? I do not know. But he did it. Now, I can no longer hear her laugh, feel her unique kisses that she uses with her nose, and eat her wonderful cooking. This man, who murdered my mother in front of my eyes should not be given any chance of parole. I do not think any of it is fair at all. He has put so many peoples lives in danger. I know he has previous charges and should have already been in jail and this incident would not have happened. We can not let Stangel, now a murderer, out. He is already given the luxury to be living. After the tragic incident, my life has never been the same. I suffered from depression and was later diagnosed by my psychologist that I had Post Traumatic Syndrome. Even walking outside of the house was a difficult task. The same type of fear that I had that night would emerge whenever I heard a car speeding off or the sound of the bang of garbage bags being tossed into the metal garbage bins. When I finally started to drive, I refused to drive along the same route home, under the bridge near the self storage. I would find a different route. I would have terrible nightmares of the event or of something similar to it and I would wake up in tears. No matter how hard I tried to erase that event from my memory the more it would replay and replay and replay in my mind. What I have seen would be stuck with me forever. My last year of high school was difficult. I was not focused on school and found myself easily distracted and had no motivation. I noticed that I was much more quieter and had a hard time socializing. I started seeing a psychologist for a few months and was recommended to see a psychiatrist as well. I was prescribed an anti-depressant called Paroxetine. I actually became
depressed that I had to depend on counseling and anti-depressants just to be okay. So I stopped going to counseling and stopped taking the anti-depressants in August 2012. Unfortunately, things have gotten worse and I have been more depressed than I have ever been. I have gone back to the antidepressants recently on June 11, 2013 to the present. Thank you for your time.
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