Reactions to attack: sadness and resolve

The below article is another from the May 13, 2019 issue of The Informer, in which a Raider attack is repelled.

Shotgun shells and .22 bullet casings litter the ground where Charles Calhoun, Martha Arceneaux, and Mark Cohen fended off Raiders trying to cross the hayfield next to the abandoned Shareburg home.

Although the assault on Gilead was fended off successfully with no injuries to any of our residents, it still left a streak of trauma throughout the community. Two Raiders have been killed, one of them by 17 year-old Paul Tobiason, and three homes were damaged in the firefight.

The psychological scars, say some, are even more acute than those caused by the apparent collapse of the society as a whole. “It’s kind of like when news of the Pandemic first started to appear,” said local carpenter Robert Jamison, husband of GDC member Chelsea Graff. “The headlines invoked images of horrible possibilities, and then the pictures we saw in the papers started to make those seem more real, but it never seemed real until we saw our friends and neighbors starting to contract the illness and die.

“This attack is the same, in that I knew intellectually that society has fallen apart, but until it came to our front door, so to speak, it was hard to internalize.”

Jamison is not alone in that sentiment. “Knowing that people want to take what you have is one thing, but seeing them actually try – seeing their faces as they shoot at you and your neighbors – is a feeling I’ll never forget,” said Joanne Costas, who was involved in the firefight at close range.

But at the same time, Costas says she couldn’t help feeling deep sorrow for the attackers after the raid. “I know they were trying to kill us, just like Raiders killed poor Steve and Emma a couple weeks ago, but when I saw those lifeless bodies left behind, I couldn’t…”

Costas was unable to continue her thought, but later conveyed that she couldn’t help but felt sorry for the Raiders. “One of the bodies was of a kid, really,” she said. “He couldn’t be more than 16 or 17 years old, and he was really thin. These people are desperate to survive, and aggression is probably the only thing they have found that keeps them from starving to death.”

Joe Tobiason echoed Costas. “For all we know, these people were decent, law-abiding folks wherever they’re from, but now they have no way of getting food,” he said. “I would think they asked for help from the first few places they came to, but I’m sure they were turned down, since everyone’s desperate and afraid. The logical next step is to become predators.”

Shara Tobiason said that her son Paul did not wish to talk about his shooting of one of the Raiders; all she would say about his reaction to the attack was that he was shaken up about it. “He was very eager to be on sentry duty,” she said, “but I think he didn’t expect anything this violent and personal to happen.”

Rich Bennington and Stan Lyon, both combat veterans of the Afghan wars, were less emotionally affected by the battle, analyzing it with a more logical set of sensibilities. “This was a pretty good live-fire exercise, bascially,” said Lyon. “We got a good sense of how well our defenses are working, we saw where we probably should beef up a few things, and we saw that our people are incredibly brave.”

Bennington agreed with Lyon’s latter point. “I’ve seen combat situations where well-trained soldiers sh-t themselves and can’t get their arms to raise their weapons,” he said. “But here we saw kids and housewives with no combat training running into the thick of battle. I was f—ing amazed.”

Bennington speculates that the defenders’ passion is fired by the knowledge that they are defending their homes and families, rather than merely following orders to execute missions in a foreign country.

Mark Cohen, who helped prevent Raiders from crossing the hayfield next to the Shareburg house, found that the attack hardened his resolve to bolster the Gilead defenses. “I don’t ever want to have to shoot at another human being again,” he said. “I did what I had to do because they were shooting at us, but when I look back on it, it makes me sick.”

Cohen said he knows he wounded at least one Raider, if not more, and that the lack of medical facilities could mean that relatively minor wounds become fatal. “I don’t want that on my conscience, or on anyone else’s,” he said, “especially not a 17 year-old kid [Paul Tobiason]. We need to have defenses that not only stop Raiders, but prevent them from even wanting to consider us as a target.”

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