But I Had to... Right?

January 12, 2009
"Police. Freeze. Drop the gun now!"

I shake in fear, I know I have to, but through the grip of fear and the rush of adrenaline I find myself unable to move or even speak. I instead grip the gun tighter, in the midst of all the flashing lights, sirens, and the yelling of police, my mind goes numb. I stand in shock and look down at my shirt, the stain of blood covers my right shoulder. I was shot, but in the midst of the confusion and everything that happened, I felt nothing. My body was bruised and swollen, but I didn't feel it.

"Come on, son we don't want to shoot, just put the gun down!"

I was in a daze because of everything that happened today. I couldn't believe I shot someone, but I had to, right?
Police slowly began to surround me. They kept their guns aimed at me, ready if at any moment I tried to shoot, but I wasn't going to. They got closer and I knew how this would end, I didn't mind. As one of them got ready to tackle me, I looked up into the sky, closed my eyes, and thought about where it all began...

Ring... ring

I woke up at eight in the morning with a headache.

"Derek, honey, wake up. You're gonna be late for school. Get ready. You're in the eleventh grade. Be responsible."

"Don't worry Mom I'll get there."

"Also, your Father had to leave early so you'll have to walk."

I got up, got ready, and left for school. It was the middle of the school year at Southside Public High School and each year was worse than the last. Over the years I've seen gangs and violence within the school grow rapidly. It's gotten so bad that even school teachers have been attacked and police are a common sight.
But as terrible as it all is, I adapted. I never joined in with the gangs, violence, and the criminal activity that ran rampant here, but I was no longer surprised when I saw it. I never told my parents much of what I saw mainly because I always felt that I could hold my own.
I got into school and passed through the day just as I usually did with no problems with anyone, keeping to myself. That's the only way to get through school without problems. Stay out of everyone’s way and they’ll most likely stay out of yours.
I normally passed through all my class periods keeping my distance from the troublemakers, but sticking close to my good friend Danny. I’ve known him since I was a kid and now he was more like a brother to me than a friend.
I caught him in the hallway and greeted him.
“Yo what’s up? After school you wanna go do somethin’?” I said. Normally after school we usually go hang out and do stuff.
“Nah, I just want to go home, I got some stuff going on. I just want to be alone for a bit.”
“Well what’s up bro, we always hang out, everything alright?”
“Nah, I’m good, I’m just not feelin’ alright today. Don’t worry about me. Anyways it’s almost time for class man, let’s go.”

Today though something about him seemed off. Usually we always hang out and he could care less when class was going to start. He was constantly looking over his shoulder today. He was afraid of something, I could see it written on his face, but I wasn't sure what it was. He wouldn't tell me either. He was also like me; he was the kind of guy who could hold his own, but also stayed out of trouble. That’s probably why we were such good friends.
After getting through all my classes, I had to stay after everyone else in the class for about an hour and a half to re-take mandatory tests I didn't do well on. Most people ignore the teachers, but I don't.
After finishing I gave the teacher my test and we left the room. He went out the back door’s staircase in a hurry, it was the teacher’s quickest way out, and teachers around here don’t like to stay in school any longer than they have to.
It was 4:30 in the afternoon and the most of the staff and all the students were gone by now. I was thrilled I could finally leave, so I went down the main entrance staircase.
I started to leave and walked down the stairs to the second floor, but I heard sounds. As bad as the school was, around this time no one would be in school. I decided to check it out. I walked down the hallway and heard the sounds of a struggle. I got closer and the noise sounded more like a fight. I quickly found that the fight was coming from an empty classroom.
"Get this fool up! I'm gonna show him what we do to snitches."
The door was open and I looked around the corner. There were two boys fighting against one, but I couldn't see who their victim was. He didn't say anything; he only fought back. I didn’t recognize who the attackers were, but they had to be one of the school’s gangsters. I pulled back and called the police.
"911 what's your emergency?"
"Send cops to Southside High School there's a fight going on inside."
"Units are on the way now, stay on the line, and wait for the police to arrive."

I looked around the door again with the phone in my hand. The one who was being attacked was Danny!
"You put my brother in jail you snitch, you had this comin'."
One of them pulled out a handgun, cocked it, and aimed it at Danny. I dropped the phone and burst into the room just as they were about to shoot him. The gunman, surprised, glanced at me and pulled the trigger hitting Danny in the chest. Danny fell back onto the floor and bled. He couldn’t even speak, coughing up blood, and writhing on the floor in pain.
My focus turned to the gunman as he aimed at me. I charged towards him knocking desks and chairs over. He shot me and hit me in the shoulder. I yelled in pain, but I kept running and tackled him. I brought him down to the floor.
His partner kicked me and tried to pry me off but I wouldn't budge. I grabbed the gunman's gun and held on tightly. He held with a tight grip, trying to shoot me, but not lose his weapon either. His partner wrapped his arms around my waist and pulled me off. I held on to the gun so tightly to that the gun ripped out of the gunman's hands. The gun was now in my possession. We fell on to the floor, he was under me, but was still holding on to me.
Fear, adrenaline, and anger now took over and everything seemed like a blur. The gunman’s partner still held onto me. I knew that this would probably be my only chance to make it out alive. I quickly aimed at the gunman before he could get up and shot at him twice, hitting him in the stomach. He screamed in pain and couldn’t move. He only held his stomach in pain and lay there bleeding.
His partner now surprised at what just happened, tried desperately now to take the gun. He kept one arm around me and grabbed my wrist with the other trying to keep me from aiming at him. I wrestled with him, trying to get out of his grip, and accidentally shot the ceiling. I smashed the back of my head into his face; in pain he loosened his grip. I rolled to the side, stood up, and aimed at him. It was over, he had nowhere to go.
I stared at him in anger. My heart raced. It’s a strange feeling when someone’s life is in your hands. This guy was human, but he killed my friend. I was furious. Memories of Danny filled my mind. I knew him all my life. He was like a brother and now he was gone. Anger took over and all I wanted was revenge and this was my chance.

I thought to myself, “This was my best friend and because of him he’s dead!” In a split second I pulled the trigger until the clip was empty, watching every bullet hit him. He was splayed out on the floor covered with blood, gurgling, until his lungs gave out.
The life that was once trying to kill me was now dead. I froze for a second in fear and confusion at what had just happened. My mind finally came back to the reality of what just happened. I looked at Danny, he was dead and so were the other two. Inside, I had a flicker of joy because I survived, but terror and great sadness took its place when I took in the fact that my friend died as well. My heart ached at the fact that I was unable to save him.
I was dizzy and panicking about what I was going to do now. I began to hear sirens. The police were finally arriving. I couldn't believe I just killed someone, I've fought many times before, but never to kill. I wondered how I'd even begin to explain to them what just happened. Would they arrest me, or shoot me thinking that I killed them all? What about school? Would I be expelled, or worse, would the friends of the two I killed retaliate against me for killing them?
Then I wondered what my parents would say. What would they think about the fact that I just killed someone? How would they look at me now?
I thought to myself... "but I had to... right? I couldn't just let my friend die, I had to do something...".
Out of fear I ran. All I could think of was getting away. I went through the hallway, down the stairs, and out the front door. Before I knew it I was outside, but I didn't notice that the gun was still in my hand...

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