Stacy Ennis was running up Crestline Trail on Saturday morning when she heard something odd.
“That was a gunshot,” she told her friend and running partner, Mary Beth St. Clair.
The pair stopped on the ridge, peering down to the Kestrel Trail below.
“I saw a guy in that kind of movie posture ... knees bent, arms out straight, where he has a handgun,” said Ennis, who lives in Eagle. “My initial thought is, ‘He’s shooting someone.’ ”
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Ennis said she heard a second gunshot, and the sound of a dog yelping in pain. She saw the dog sprint away as she heard another man yell, “What are you doing?”
That’s when Ennis knew she needed to call 911 — but neither she nor St. Clair had brought their phones on their run. They sprinted down the Crestline Trail in search of someone who had one.
The women had witnessed one of the initial confrontations that drew police into conflict with a yet-unidentified man who threatened dogs and people on the trails around Hulls Gulch. After shooting and killing one dog — the gunfire Ennis and St. Clair saw — he reportedly opened fire on police who found him. After a shootout shortly before noon, he was found dead.
The family who owned the dog — a Vizsla named Moses — has asked for privacy following his death. Some people on social media have offered to collect cards for the family or make donations to animal shelters in their name.
Search for a phone
On their way down the trail, Ennis said, the women ran into two groups of high school girls running as part of a track team.
“I was sure they would have a phone,” said Ennis. They didn’t.
The two women told the girls to get out of the area, then continued searching for someone with a phone. Soon, they ran into fellow trail runner Leslie Webb. Ennis used Webb’s phone to call 911, and to take photos of the scene unfolding on Kestrel Trail below.
“We saw a guy facing up the hill (who we) later found out was the dog’s owner. We thought he was the shooter. He was screaming, ‘Call 911,’ ” Ennis recalled.
The women asked if the dog’s owner was hurt, and he told them he wasn’t. He repeated his request to call 911, saying someone was shooting his dog.
Ennis, St. Clair and Webb crouched down on the trail, just in case the shooter was able to see them on the ridge above. They were joined there by another runner, Lisa Rogien.
“At some point I realized there wasn’t much more we could do, and we were potentially in serious danger,” said Ennis. She and St. Clair left the ridge to warn others, while Rogien took over offering directions to first-responders using Webb’s cellphone. She said waiting for police felt like forever.
“You think of active shooter situations at schools or work,” said Rogien, who was also without a phone. “I have, at most, water. It’s not like you run with anything.”
From the Crestline ridge, Rogien said she and Webb could see the dog’s owner trying to leave the area. She called it heartbreaking.
“This poor guy is trying to carry his dog, stumbling and sobbing. You could tell from across the gully he was just devastated,” Rogien said.
Eventually, Webb and Rogien tried to leave the area by following the Crestline Trail. They were stopped by a motorcycle officer who warned them of crossfire. Rogien said they didn’t hear the volley of shots that six Boise police officers exchanged with the unidentified gunman, but other witnesses did.
Teresa, a hiker who wanted to be identified only by her first name, said she always takes the Lower Hulls Gulch Trail when she’s in the area. On Saturday, she and some friends chose the Red Cliffs trail instead. Her daughter called to warn of the shooting situation, and as the group made its way back to their cars, gunfire erupted.
“All of a sudden we heard the shots. It just went on and on and on,” said Teresa, who estimated the shooting lasted for 30 seconds.
“We dropped down, and one girl was praying pretty hard. We knew somebody had died — they had to,” she said.
Soon after, officers in hiding “rose up out of the hills,” Teresa said.
In the meantime, Ennis and St. Clair had taken off across the vast system of trails that winds through the Hulls Gulch area. All along the way, Ennis said, they warned other trail users of the potential danger and split up with other runners to be sure people on each trail were notified.
“We had a whole army of people out there warning people,” she recalled.
“We told probably 30 or 40 people to leave,” said Ennis, who described a “mass exodus” from the Foothills as she and St. Clair made their way from Crestline over to trails west of Sunset Peak Road and finally to Camel’s Back, shouting warnings all along the way.
Ennis, who is speaking on bravery at next month’s TEDx event in Boise, said she’s no hero for spreading the word.
“I couldn’t have just run back and not done that,” she said. “It goes against human nature, I think.”
But St. Clair said her friend is the ideal person to be with in a crisis situation. “She just stepped up to the plate.”
Most people on the trails heeded her warnings, Ennis said. But not all of them.
“He’ll be out of bullets by the time he gets to me,” one man told Ennis as he continued on his way.
Sense of safety rattled
Rogien, who took over Ennis’ 911 call on the Crestline Trail, said she thinks many people simply don’t expect a shooting situation in the serene Foothills.
“I thought, ‘Random violence is so rare. It must be an altercation between two people,’ ” Rogien said.
And gunshots aren’t always unusual: There’s a shooting range nearby. Just last week, Rogien said, police approached her on a run in the Hulls Gulch area after they’d received reports of gunshots that turned out to be from the range.
“You become a little immune to it,” Rogien said. “Any sound, I just assume that’s the gun range.”
Saturday’s incident has her hesitating a bit to return, saying that on Sunday morning she wanted to run but experienced “this nervousness that wasn’t there before.”
Teresa also said she would give it some time before she goes back to the trail system, which she frequents. St. Clair shares the same hesitation.
“I don’t know how I would react going back to that spot,” St. Clair said. “I did go out on another trail today just to make sure I could do it.”
Ennis headed out for a run on Sunday afternoon in Eagle. She said she’ll be back on the Hulls Gulch loop next weekend.
“For Boise, the Foothills are your heart,” Ennis said. “We can’t make that the story of the Foothills.”
This report has been updated to include the correct number of gunshots Stacy Ennis heard.