That’s how long Isabella, a 48-year-old divorced mother of five, knew Alan Amundson, a 53-year-old divorced father of two, before his anger at her decision to end their short relationship boiled over.
They began dating soon after they met — he got her number at a wedding last summer. But she recalls feeling almost immediately uncomfortable with his constant calls and texts, his talk of marriage and general neediness.
She told him, more than once, that his attention was too much, too fast. She broke up with him, more than once.
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He wouldn’t take no for an answer.
On June 28, 2016, she met him at a local restaurant to make it clear she wanted nothing more to do with him.
Amundson still showed up at her house near Boise’s Capital High School at 11:30 p.m., while she was asleep. She had no idea when she told her son to let him in that he was carrying a handgun. Nor did she know there were long guns in his truck, with a large supply of ammunition. As they parted earlier in the day, he had threatened to kill her — but she didn’t believe he would actually become homicidal, she said.
“People say stupid stuff,” said Isabella, a former preschool teacher.
She now believes that he intended to kill her and her children that night. But his plans went awry: Her family fought him off, at a cost, and Amundson took his own life after firing on police officers responding to what became a neighborhood under siege.
She’s pained by memories that can’t be scrubbed away as easily as the blood that covered her house. The home where she raised her kids the past dozen years stopped feeling like the warm, safe place it used to be. She’s seeing a counselor to cope with the invisible after-effects of a life-and-death struggle with a man she barely knew, who told her he couldn’t live without her.
“Even after he killed himself, I would still feel him. I burned his pictures. I wrote him a letter,” said Isabella. “He was haunting me for months.”
The Statesman generally does not identify victims of domestic abuse. For this story, Isabella is identified only by her first name.
Warning signs soon developed
Amundson was originally from Iowa, according to his obituary. He was in the U.S. Air Force for 20 years, retiring after being stationed in Mountain Home. He then worked for three years at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., before returning to Idaho, the obituary said.
Married for 29 years, he was divorced in 2015. His ex-wife in that obituary described herself as his “lifelong partner and best friend.” Reached last year after Amundson’s death, she told the Statesman her family was still grieving and not ready to talk; she did not respond to further requests for comment this month.
In Idaho, Amundson served as chief of custodial services at the Boise VA Medical Center from 2008 until his death, a VA spokesman told the Statesman.
Several of his former co-workers left kind comments online, praising him for being warm, professional and supportive.
“Why this happened I wish I could understand,” wrote one Boisean. “You brought this hospital to cleanest standards praised by Joint Commission. I will so miss your dedication and pride.”
Isabella said she heard employees say nice things about Amundson at the wedding where she met him. She at first found him smart and interesting. “We talked about life, work, trucks,” she said.
But she soon saw a demanding, possessive side. He declared her his girlfriend as they were getting to know each other and tried to involve her in constant communication. She said she told him she couldn’t text all day because she was too busy at work.
As she began trying to back out of the relationship, he pushed harder — sending her photos of engagement rings. She said she tried breaking up with him again a week before he went on his rampage.
Isabella recognized Amundson’s behavior as abusive, she said, but she was unable to extricate herself.
On June 28, she met him at a local restaurant to tell him goodbye, once and for all. He cried and promised to get help, she said. He also issued his threat.
Quiet night turns violent
Once Amundson was in the house, his final confrontation with Isabella quickly turned physical. They were in her bedroom when he began choking her, she said.
“I was fighting for my life,” she said. She was able to get enough air to thrash around and get the attention of her 16-year-old daughter, who was watching a movie in another room.
The melee also drew the attention of her 18-year-old son, who wrestled Amundson off his mother. Isabella said Amundson pulled out a gun and fired it at least twice, striking her son in the chest and hand.
“He kept saying, ‘You shot me. Oh, my God, you shot me,’ ” Isabella recalled. Her son was bleeding profusely. She yelled at him to get out of the house and get help, then stayed behind to help free her daughter from Amundson’s clutches.
It was just before midnight when the chaos spilled into the street.
Doug and Terra Fogg had just gone to bed. The couple didn’t see or hear Isabella’s son pounding on an elderly couple’s door across the street, but the next day they saw the bloody print he left behind. The desperate teen quickly moved on to houses at the other end of Bridlewood Circle, calling out for anyone to help.
Julie Dietz was dozing off while watching Netflix when she heard his pleas, she told the Statesman last year. The teen told her he had a gun, and she told him to drop it. He then collapsed in the street.
Dietz called 911 while applying pressure to his chest wound. Then she saw Isabella and her daughter running out of their home.
“I remember hearing them scream, ‘He’s got a gun. He’s going to kill us,’ ” Dietz 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.’ ”
Hit with a boot
The 5-foot-3 Isabella said she was able to free her daughter from Amundson, who was beating the girl, by grabbing one of her heavy, steel-toed Harley-Davidson boots and clubbing him on the back of the head.
“I hit him three times, and he let go,” she said. She said it appeared he was knocked out — but only long enough for them to escape the house.
When Dietz saw Amundson come out of the house, she realized immediately that he was the true threat. She ran back to her home to get her handgun.
Isabella and her daughter dragged the wounded teen to Dietz’s door. They could see Amundson getting long guns from his truck.
Dietz helped them into her basement, then took up a defensive position in the house. She called 911 again to urge emergency personnel and said Isabella’s son appeared pale.
“The blood was coming out so hard, like a hose. That’s why I don’t like talking about it,” his mother said. “I’m so thankful. I know that God was watching over us.”
Physical and emotional damage
Amundson fired at Dietz’s house, and at other homes and vehicles in the neighborhood. Isabella said he shot up her Ford Edge, totaling the $40,000 vehicle.
Travis Oswald, who lives near the cul-de-sac, heard screaming and heard bullets striking the side of his house. One came too close for comfort, he said, passing between his arm and his body. He had his fiancee and her son hide in a bedroom closet while he trained a rifle on the door.
Ben Breiding and his then-pregnant wife were watching TV. At the sound of gunshots, they immediately got on the floor and hustled to a back room.
Paramedics couldn’t immediately get into the neighborhood to help Isabella’s son because of the shootout.
When the Foggs heard strange noises outside, they looked out the window and saw Amundson, whom they’d met once before, walking out of Isabella’s house toward his truck. He seemed to be walking oddly, they noted; they didn’t see a gun.
Once bullets whizzed into their large motor home, Doug Fogg called 911. He said the dispatcher told him that police were already on scene — and one officer had been shot.
Fogg later learned that officer, Jordan McCarthy, was taking cover next to the motor home when he was hit. The bullet passed through the front end of the RV. Two others hit the windshield and the driver’s side window.
The Foggs said they let the Special Operations Unit into their house. The officers went into their backyard and knocked out pieces of their fence to flank Amundson.
Two Boise officers eventually wounded Amundson in the arm. At some point, the firing stopped. About two minutes later, officers approached to find Amundson dead from a self-inflicted head wound.
Isabella’s son survived his injuries, and he’s doing well as a student at Boise State University.
McCarthy, struck in the chest, was protected from lethal injury by his ballistic vest; he was treated at a local hospital and released. The Canyon County Prosecutor’s Office and investigators with an Ada County task force concluded the officers who shot at Amundson acted reasonably, Boise police announced Friday.
Dietz, a prison guard for the Idaho Department of Correction, received an award for bravery for her actions that night. A GoFundMe account raised $2,600 to repair the damage to her house from gunfire.
The Foggs didn’t go to work the next day, instead watching as investigators studied the crime scene.
The night was a traumatic experience they still haven’t shaken. Terra Fogg said she was surprised by her latent emotions when she heard a shooting a few months later in Garden City. “I just dropped to the ground in tears,” she recalled.
In an abusive relationship? There’s help
Any person who finds themselves in a situation like Isabella’s can get help, said Bea Black, director of the Women’s and Children’s Alliance.
The WCA has a 24-hour domestic violence hotline: 208-343-7025.
“Trust your gut,” Black said. If you break up with someone and they keep showing up unannounced at your home, call 911.
“We do have rights as homeowners. We have the right to feel safe in our own home,” she said.
If necessary, Black said, you can seek a restraining order.
If you plan to break up with someone who is controlling or stalking you, it’s a good idea to talk through your safety plan with a domestic violence expert at the WCA, Black said.