Most people know Larry Steven McQuilliams from his Thanksgiving night shooting spree in downtown Austin. Around 2:30 a.m. on Oct. 28, he fired more than 100 rounds at the Mexican consulate, the federal courthouse and the Austin Police Department headquarters before police shot and killed him.
Two hours later I awoke to someone pounding on the door of my apartment at 1117 Hollow Creek. The policeman at my door said there had been an officer-involved shooting and everyone had to leave the building while police checked the deceased suspect’s apartment for explosives. A police helicopter thrummed overhead. The officer wouldn’t give us details, but said we’d learn all about it on the news. I went with my neighbor to his mother’s house nearby, where we flipped through news channels and listened to an online feed of Travis County law enforcement scanners, trying to figure out who the shooter was. We knew almost everyone at South Creek, our 23-unit apartment complex.
The next day, I went back to my apartment building to try to retrieve my car key, but was still not permitted to enter my room. I also got on Twitter and started sharing what I knew with the press. As a freelance writer I knew information from citizen-journalists could be valuable. While I didn’t know the shooter well, he was my neighbor and occasional dogsitter, and I was also more comfortable speaking with the media than most of the neighbors who knew him better.
I’ve had three weeks to reflect on the ATX shooter, to talk with my neighbors who best knew Steve (the name he went by with us). We’ve wrestled with the fact that the man we knew scarcely resembled the figure who shot up downtown and who was described by police and the media as a terrorist and extremist. We thought the Steve we knew was the full Steve, the real Steve.
The weekend before last I sat for several hours with six other South Creek residents and ex-residents in our courtyard, drinking and talking about him. Those who had known Steve as a friend were at once disbelieving, dazed, frustrated and sad. The rest of us tried to make sense of the actions of a fixture of our community.
Linda knew Steve best. (I’ve used pseudonyms for all the neighbors because they didn’t want their real names mentioned.) I asked her what he disliked about the government.
“He didn’t like Obamacare,” Linda said. “And he didn’t agree with the thing about the amnesty.”
She revealed Steve hadn’t trusted banks, either; he’d converted his savings to silver bars and coins.
“He said, ‘You should take all your money and get silver.’ I’m going, ‘Steve, I don’t know about that.’”
I asked why she thought he’d targeted the police department.
“He didn’t like the police because they were belligerent to people. Like when he was at the park [they’d] strut around. He didn’t like it when he’s at the park people are trying to have a nice time… [He wondered] why can’t the police just leave people alone.”……….read more here.