Witnessed a shooting in 1991

One of the more sordid memories from my past:  On my 30th birthday, April 8, 1991, I witnessed the shooting of 3 men outside the restaurant where I was having lunch.

3 Men Are Shot On Parkway Cigna Executives Hit By Lone Gunman; 1 Critically Injured

I had just finished lunch at the TGI Friday’s near my office in Philadelphia.  I was sitting with a good friend near the front window.  I had a front-row seat as I watched a man walk up to 4 men on the sidewalk, point what looked to me like an enormous revolver at them, and shoot 4 times.  Then, he turned and left.  The men lay motionless on the sidewalk, their blood pooling under them.  They were executives from Cigna, out celebrating Peter Foy’s 48th birthday.  Peter died on the 9th from his injuries.  Two other men were injured, and a fourth escaped injury by diving into bushes.

I initially thought this might be some kind of film scene.  After a few seconds, it was clear there were no cameras, and what I saw out the window was real.

It was over very quickly.  When people inside the restaurant heard the shots, they dove to the floor for cover, except for me.  It was a beautiful day outside, the street was relatively crowded, and there were lots of witnesses.  The police arrived quickly, and I eventually was brought over to the police station to give a statement.  It was an abject lesson in the unreliability of eyewitness accounts – I think I remembered correctly the shooter’s general appearance and the shirt that he wore, but not what the gun looked like.  I wasn’t called back or asked to testify.

Later I noticed that a bullet had hit the wall a couple feet from where I sat.  It hadn’t occurred to me at the time that I might have been hit.

The shooter was quickly found and arrested.  Dr. Jean-Claude Pierre Hill, who was scheduled to start a psychiatric residency at a nearby hospital the next month, was arrested on the 9th near his parents’ home in Virginia.  In short-order it was reported that he was mentally ill, and that he thought the mafia or the CIA were following him.

Doctor Arrested In Shootings Had No Known Ties To Cigna Executives

After this, there wasn’t much more information.  In fact, I don’t remember hearing about the trial or sentencing, even though the shooter’s name was permanently burned into my memory.  I just looked it up today, and found he received a life sentence on December 12, 1992.

Hill To Start Serving Life Sentence At Farview Psychiatric Facility

The account of his sentence includes details of how the shooter lied on a federal form 10 days before the shooting in Virginia to buy guns, including the murder weapon, and had purchased two Colt .45 pistols, four gun clips and 270 rounds of ammunition.

I didn’t know any of these people, and can only imagine the pain all of the families and victims experienced.  It was a random, tragic crime.  I’ll never forget.

You can probably guess how I feel about gun control now!

Thinking about religion

This post on Salon got me thinking once again about my beliefs, or lack thereof. I find this a very difficult subject to address even privately, except with my wife, because so much judgmental behavior can come from discussions. Yet, I have significant doubt of my own faith.


What am I up to lately?

Just a quick update:
– Finished the CSO Chorus year with a big concert last night with Westminster and the Spoleto Orchestra – went really well
– Been trying out FourSquare. Sorry to my Facebook friends who get annoyed by too many updates – I’m trying to find the balance
– Got ahold of a collection of Rolling Stone Top 500 songs of all time – cool stuff


You found me!  Welcome to my little corner of the web on MSN’s new Spaces blog feature.  This is an augmentation to my website, http://jfschroeder.com, which I’ve struggled with for years trying to determine purpose and whatnot.  I’ve simply found that it’s tough to keep a website up to date and relevant, and it’s not terribly dynamic.  Plus, I’ve been trying to figure out if the website is for my ideas, my history, my business, or whatever.  And despite what Microsoft might want you to believe, it’s not easy to add things like blogging, unarguably the hottest Internet communication technology out there, to a website using their own tools like FrontPage, which I use exclusively for web publishing.

I have strong opinions about many things, even though my wife thinks I simply believe what the latest critic has said about a subject.  As I’ve gotten older, I find that I don’t know nearly as much as I’d like to know, nor do I have the time to learn as much as I’d like, but my years and experiences have given me perspective to reason through things.

I’d probably best be described as a liberal, Democratic northern-born Episcopalian living in an arch-conservative state.  I am straight, married only once and for almost 19 years to my social conscience, Laura.  I have three beautiful children:  Alexander is 14, big for his age, smart and a gifted singer; Benjamin is 12, autistic, a handful, occasionally a joy, and also smart in his own ways; Bethany is 8 going on 18, social, pretty, smart, and also a singer.  Laura sings also!

I’ve watched my religious denomination and my political party get torn apart recently by nearly unresolvable issues like homosexuality and war.  Our president seems bent on destabilization of the Middle East in the name of preserving us from terrorism, while seeming to be blind to the incentive that his efforts give to increasing terrorism.  We are constantly being preached to about morality and values, frequently by people who have been married multiple times.

My family has experienced tremendous challenges, and has been helped by a wide variety of family, friends, church and even governmental generousity.  We understand the meaning of charity, and have been repeatedly humbled by people willing to give without expecting to receive.  We’ve lived without health insurance for years at a time, and have seen the devastation of lengthy unemployment and disability first-hand.  Our kids challenge our time and the meager resources of our educational system, particularly in special education.

I’ll expand on much of this in future posts.  Thanks for stopping by!