Had she known she’d be defending herself — and three others — from a gunman in her West Boise neighborhood, Julie Dietz might have put on shoes.
It all happened too fast.
Dietz recalls running barefoot through shards of glass that covered the staircase of her split-level home after bullets shattered window blocks near the front door. She had just ushered three neighbors into her basement — including a teenager who was shot in the chest and hand.
She took cover behind a wall at the top of the staircase and trained her handgun on the front door. If the shooter followed them, she hoped it would be sooner rather than later; the teen, a recent high school graduate, was bleeding out.
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But the man, whom authorities identified as Alan Amundson, 53, stayed close to his truck — where he had a cache of guns and ammunition, including at least one military-style assault rifle.
“I remember seeing the police lights come into the very end of the cul-de-sac, and he was shooting at them as they rolled on,” Dietz said. “He never stopped shooting. He was switching clips. He was shooting at my house. He was shooting at them.”
Amundson, head of custodial services at the Boise VA Medical Center, took his own life after shooting the teenager and a Boise police officer. Both the police officer, who was protected by a ballistic vest, and the teen have been released from the hospital, Boise and Ada County law enforcement officials confirmed.
We are so proud of Julie but, frankly, we are not at all surprised.
Kevin Kempf, IDOC director
Dietz, who will receive an award for bravery from the Idaho Department of Correction, sat down with the Statesman this week to give her account of the June 28 rampage.
“The courage she showed reflects the caliber of Idaho’s correctional professionals who work hard every day to keep our communities and neighborhoods safe,” said Kevin Kempf, IDOC director.
‘HE’S GOING TO KILL US’
Minutes before the mayhem, Dietz was dozing off in her living room.
It was her day off work. She played in a city league softball game, then took her 13-year-old son to his friend’s house before settling in on the couch to watch Netflix.
Close to midnight, she heard someone yelling in front of her house on Bridlewood Circle, near Capital High School. She became concerned when she realized it was a young man calling for help.
“Because of my field, because of some of my training, I didn’t go running out there,” said Dietz, a 36-year-old former Ada County Juvenile Detention Center officer who has worked as a state correctional officer the past two years. “I’m a drug ID instructor. I thought he was wasted.”
She cracked open her front door and asked him what was going on. He told her he had been shot, and she could see he held a handgun.
“But he wasn’t holding it right,” Dietz said, explaining that it appeared he was cradling it in his arms. “It had a laser sight on it, and it was pointed towards him. I remember seeing the light on his arm or on his chest.”
She said she told him to drop the gun. He did that, then collapsed.
Julie Dietz was recently promoted to sergeant at the men’s medium-security prison. She has worked at the maximum security and women’s prisons during her two-year tenure with IDOC.
Dietz recalled using one hand to apply pressure to his chest wound and the other to call 911. Soon after, the teen’s mother and sister came running out of a nearby house.
“I remember hearing them scream, ‘He’s got a gun. He’s going to kill us,’” she said. “My initial thought process was, ‘No, I’ve got the gun right here. We’re OK. It’s OK. I’ve got the gun.’”
Then a man came out of the same house, and she quickly recognized he was the threat, not the teenager. She determined the gun the teen had dropped wasn’t going to help, so she ran into her house to get her personal handgun.
The mother and sister followed with the teen. She helped them into her basement — her front door and entryway is largely glass — and grabbed a rag for them to hold on the teen’s wound while she took up a defensive position upstairs.
She did consider sneaking out the back of her house, around the side and trying to take Amundson out while he was changing magazines. But she knew she was outgunned.
“He had big guns, long guns,” said Dietz, who has never fired a gun at someone on or off the job. “They were AR-style, AR-15.”
Dietz is a trained EMT but hasn’t kept up her certification. She said she called 911 back to urge them to send help when the teen was looking very pale, and his eyes began fluttering.
‘SON SAVED HER LIFE’
Authorities haven’t talked about any sort of motive for the rampage.
Amundson had been in a relationship with Dietz’s neighbor, but the woman broke things off, Dietz said. He got into some sort of physical altercation with the woman on the night of June 28.
“The son saved her life,” said Dietz, who visited the teen in the hospital. She said the teen was wrestling the gun out of Amundson’s hands when he was shot.
I have some basic handgun training, some firearms training that we get with the department standard, but I would like some more. We’ve got so many great firearms instructors with the department.
Dietz has been to the hospital a couple of different times to get glass shards removed from the bottom of her feet. She was offered time off to recover but opted to get back to work one day later.
“I’m not a highly emotional person,” said Dietz, whose hobbies include riding motorcycles and, prior to a leg injury, roller derby
But she admits to feeling a lot of nervous energy. The sounds of the Fourth of July made her a little anxious — more the kids yelling than the fireworks.
“I feel like I’m waiting,” she said, explaining a feeling of lingering fight-or-flight hypervigilance.
Her home doesn’t feel like the relaxing, safe place it used to. She said she’s glad she had a handgun for protection, but wished last week that she had a rifle. She plans to get one, and more weapons training.
“I was ready to protect us, if necessary. I can’t imagine how much worse I would be feeling if I didn’t have my own handgun, if I would have been sitting there waiting for him to finish us off,” Dietz said. “So that I’m very thankful for.”
You can now help Julie Dietz
Her house needs a lot of repairs after the shooting. In addition to broken windows and holes in walls, the bloody carpet in the basement was ripped out by a cleanup crew.
A friend of Dietz’s has set up a GoFundMe account to raise $2,500 to cover her insurance deductible and medical bills. It’s called “Boise Samaritan Needs Assistance!” and can be found at this link.