One of the most telling tests of a community is the measure of how its citizens react in a crisis. Over the weekend, the Boise recreation community, North End trail-side neighborhoods and Boise police and fire departments learned a lot about themselves.
In an instant Saturday morning, one of the most idyllic and iconic trail networks in the Boise Foothills was transformed into a live crime scene with an active shooter.
A man officials later identified as Benjamin Christian Barnes, 42, threatened multiple people and their dogs in the Hulls Gulch area Saturday morning. The threats ended with the shooting of one family’s dog before Boise officers arrived and exchanged gunfire with Barnes, who was fatally shot.
All this erupted in one of the last places one could imagine, or encounter in a nightmare — within shouting distance of children playing at Camel’s Back Park or people gathering at the Jim Hall Foothill Learning Center — on a day when the Foothills were teeming with hikers and mountain bike riders.
The good news is that people quickly recognized the dangers and alerted others. Through word of mouth and on Facebook and other social media posts, they made the potential hazards known.
And people were thankful.
In addition, some neighbors were notified by a CodeRED alert sent by the Ada County Sheriff’s Office.
This traumatic morning — which resulted in the death of the shooter and a family’s beloved dog — nonetheless displayed a #BoiseStrong composure and an attitude that perhaps is more encouraging than surprising.
By the time Boise police gave the all-clear, there were still things to ponder.
Is there any way this situation could have been avoided? What was going on in the shooter’s mind? What measures can be taken to avoid another such awful outcome?
Though these questions linger, we can rest assured that those involved apparently performed well in this crisis.
When the community saw something, it said something. It isn’t much of a stretch to say that lives may have been saved because, when it really counted, we looked out for one-another.