From the Journal of James Bishop:
My name is James Bishop. I’m uncertain about what is going on, but I am trapped inside my suite at the Elder Hill Hotel. I was attending a workflow management conference in town with my coworker Gabe. This was supposed to be our last night before we flew back to Utah.
We were in the lobby when it happened – getting snacks and drinks. Gabe was there with whatever woman he was hooking up with after the conference. God, please forgive me for shutting the elevator door on them. I panicked and heard so much screaming – I just ran.
A man who looked homeless stumbled into the hotel lobby and attacked a red-haired woman as she tried to exit past him. There was screaming and blood – it looked like he’d bitten her and taken a chunk out of her neck. She hit the ground, clutching her neck, and shortly after that – she stopped moving.
I know two other men in the lobby moved to subdue the man. I know the clerk at the counter called 911. I didn’t turn to see it. Instead, I watched the woman flailing and grasping as she tried to fight the man off. The two men quickly pulled him off her, but I kept watching her. She slumped with her head pushed to her chest by the glass door, and we locked eyes. I had never seen someone die. I can’t handle the thought of blood, let alone the sight.
I watched her die from fifteen feet away and did nothing. I just froze in the moment, although I retched and vomited on myself at some point. I heard the man snarling and struggling against the men trying to restrain him. I heard other screams and shouting in the lobby but didn’t regain my awareness of everything until another man ran into the glass of the hotel lobby’s entrance.
When I snapped to, I realized the three men were entangled and fighting and saw even more blood making my dinner creep back up from my stomach again. The man was now attacking the others – biting and snapping at them. I don’t know what Gabe and his companion were doing. I do know that when I saw the redhead awkwardly climb back to her feet and start pushing her way into the lobby, I ran.
I sprinted back toward the elevators and hit the call button so hard I thought I had broken it. The few people in the lobby began to move back to safety, but I was ahead of all of them. Inside the elevator, alone and trembling, I pounded the butting to close the doors. I could hear others calling to wait. I recognized Gabe’s voice shouting over the others – but I couldn’t wait. I needed to be safe.
I lost my cell phone somewhere between the lobby and my room, and the hotel’s phone line isn’t letting me dial out. The local news station says it is at least city-wide – though they called it rioting. I can hear people screaming and running up and down the hall.
This isn’t a riot. I can feel the pounding thuds of someone on the floor above me, throwing themselves against a door. I’m writing things down in this notebook while hiding in the bathtub. The shower curtain is drawn, and the doors to the bathroom, bedroom, and hotel suite are closed and locked.
I still don’t feel safe. Months ago, my therapist said journaling can help me when I cannot express my thoughts or feelings. Right now, I just feel terrified and uncertain. Anyone who knew me would probably say I’m a high-anxiety pushover. All I want to do is be home with my wife and son. Paige, Taylor. I love them and miss them already. I must find a way to call them and let them know I will come home.
Whatever is happening can’t be happening back home. It can’t be. They must be safe.