This letter is the true story of a bullet that was a fraction of an inch from being the cause for an obituary for Katelyn Hall, a 18-year-old Malibu High senior who went to Downtown Los Angeles on Oct. 30, a Saturday night, with a group of friends to hear and support a band at an art fundraiser. Katelyn is an honor student who was voted “Most Artistic” and recently formed a band, which performed in public for the first time this October at the Knitting Factory in Hollywood. Katelyn and a carload of friends went downtown to enjoy the music and dance as millions of kids all across America were doing that night.
After the band had finished around 11 p.m. and was loading their equipment into a van, a group of lawless punks from a next-door bar started beating up the band members, shot up the van with bullets grazing two kids. As Katelyn and her four friends were driving away from the parking lot, a bullet blasted through the side window, hitting Katelyn, who was in the front passenger seat, just behind her right ear, then passed cleanly through her open mouth.
A miracle. No brain, skull, vein, jaw damage. A fraction of an inch anywhere else would have been certain death. Katelyn has nerve damage that has paralyzed the right side of her beautiful sparkling blue-eyed face. Long periods of nerve grafting operations, surgeries and healing are in store. As a father, a parent, what can I do?
Will this be just another shooting, another victim, another crime, another victory for the gangs against law and order? Three days after the shooting, Katelyn insisted on voting for the first time. Being brave and strong is part of her character.
Iraq is here. Unsafe zones are pocketed throughout L.A. Insurgents are here. Murderers and criminals are fearless. Lawlessness has won. Katelyn’s older brother, Angel, 30, is in Baghdad’s Green Zone working in security, putting his life on the line to help make a difference in serving others to have a better life. He flew from Baghdad to Malibu to be with her. Katelyn’s younger sister, Brittany, 15, is in therapy. A father’s first concern is to protect his children from harm’s way. Now I have experienced John Donne’s “Ask not for whom the bells tolls, it tolls for you.” Katelyn wonders if she will be ever able to smile again. There is one punk coward out there tonight with a 9 mm pistol and there are people who were with him, who saw him, who know him. President Bush said that if you harbor a terrorist, a lawless insurgent, then you are one of them; a cowardly punk with a 9 mm pistol that shoots children in the back.
As a victim, what can you do? Katelyn gave support and encouragement to her many friends who were traumatized by her near death experience. They came to her for hope and faith that everything would be all right again. This open letter is addressed to other victims of violent crimes and the Malibu community at large for the exchange of ideas and information concerning family, school and community action against violent crimes. Ideas like creating a Web site for kids to identify unsafe zones that have a record of murders, shootings and other crimes that will be off-limits to promoters of events, a Web site Watch that kids can e-mail and share information for their own safety.
The state has other priorities; the police are outmanned. Fear rules the land. Cowardly packs of punks with guns roam the streets free with more rights than the victims. They have no fear of being caught. So, is Katelyn just another one of their victims until the next one, and the next?
We the people must protect our children and ourselves by supporting and bonding together as one force. If not now, when? The bell is tolling.
Contact: Jimmy Hall, 23852 Pacific Coast Highway, #468, Malibu, 90265, E-Mail: email@example.com
Note: A Trust is being established for Katelyn Hall’s recovery and scholarship at the above address for interested parties.