Tell us a bit about yourself!
Hi! I’m Katie Estelle and I’m 23. I live in the mitten part of Michigan, kind of close to the curve of the thumb if you hold out your hand; it’s a Michigan thing.
By day, I’m a social worker who empowers families to take steps to keep their kids out of the foster care system. It’s a challenging, drama-filled, fulfilling gig. I spend my evenings thrifting, and refurbishing old things when I’m not cuddling with my baby, my hubby, or my Ugg pug.
I was having a night out with some girlfriends of mine. Every Tuesday that summer I had followed this formula: head to a local brewery, followed by a downtown bar, and finish the night at a sports pub for dollar pints. For some reason this night I decided I wanted a break from my normal routine and headed to The Cabin. Here’s us at The Cabin before our other friend had arrived.
It was a nice July evening, so my 3 lady friends and I chose an outdoor table to sip on our discounted long islands and gossip. Here in Michigan we get mosquitoes, and this night was no exception, so I asked if we could go inside before my legs were covered in bites. They let me choose the table inside.
I had just set my mug down when I saw a man in a red sweatshirt walked across the room, go up to a booth, and hold something black in front of him. I hear four loud pops and saw some small, bright flashes.
Even though I saw this, my brain didn’t know how to process it. My initial response was that someone had dropped a tray of dishes. It was so loud. Once I heard people screaming and saw them rushing for the exits, I realized we needed to get out of there.
In the confusion, people on the patio we were just sitting on were trying to get inside while we were trying to get out, and one of the girls I was with was hyperventilating and wouldn’t move. It was pure chaos. I lost the other two in the panic, but I pulled my panicking friend behind me.
I’ll never forget the feeling of adrenaline as I hopped over a pine-log fence and saw a man pulling his girlfriend behind him as he army-crawled low to the ground. We ran across the street and hid in some pine trees, not knowing if he was still shooting or what was going on. I called my mom, crying as we watched as the shooter flew past us in his truck, followed by a heap of police cars.
I know from articles that he had some mental health issues. I also know that police found a Kevlar vest, a Glock handgun, and two full magazines of ammunition on him, leading them to believe he was planning on shooting more people; he ended up taking two lives that day; his own, and that of a man who he thought was involved in a relationship with his sister-in-law. It turns out that they were just colleagues having drinks after work that night.
I’m really okay. I don’t have any long-lasting debilitating effects from experiencing this tragedy, but I have noticed a difference. When I watch stories about events such as Sandy Hook and Aurora, I cry in a way I never did before. I relive the event a little each time and I feel for the witnesses. After Aurora, I’m uncomfortable in movie theaters and I don’t know that I would be if this hadn’t happened.
I’m still really on the fence about gun control. I was raised in a hunting family and many of my friends and family actually carry on them (legally, of course). I am and will forever be for increased mental health services, though.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it. My friends and I were lucky- none of us experienced PTSD, but that doesn’t mean anyone present that night isn’t still dealing with the effects two years later. There are many resources for crisis counseling in every state. Seek them out and never be ashamed of how you feel.