Tom Squitieri - Nearly Killed in Haiti
On September 30th, 1994, in Haiti, by then the die had been cast for the bad guys, the junta, who had overthrown Aristide, the president of Haiti. The U.S. troops were already in Haiti and Aristideís return was certain. Haiti has always been a dangerous place. Like many of the Central American conflicts, itís not a traditional war, as in front lines, but more of a hit and run conflict, a dictatorship of oppressing people. This was a massive turnout of Aristide supporters moving through the streets, and it just erupted into conflict just as many reporters suspected. I was walking down the street with other reporters, trailing the bad guys, who were shooting their weapons off and throwing stones and waving machetes, when all of a sudden, as so happens in Haiti, youíre caught in a cross-fire because someone comes down an alley or down the street. So, I went to a, a house where there was a concrete porch around it, and I yanked a photographer off the street, who was frozen at what was happening, again, which often happens to people. And we were crouching down behind this concrete until the danger and the, the threat passed. And a Haitian came along and jumped in with us. We had thought the danger had passed. We stood up, and one of the crazed bad buys with, with a weapon saw, and came back, and was pointing his gun at me. Now, having been wounded in Bosnia before, it sort of took the fear of death away from me. Youíre hit, you know youíre not invulnerable. So, you know itís a matter of the clock of timing, of your guardian angel being there, whatever. But you also learn, I learned to act and not react, as I did in Bosnia. I acted to get out of the danger that was thrust upon me. So, in Haiti, he was pointing his gun, going into the position which I know what comes. As soon as that hand gets down, the trigger is pulled and Iím dead. So, I need to break the, the movement, break his flow. So I start waving my arms to distract him shouting, ďNo, no, no,Ē and indeed it worked. It worked because it stopped him momentarily. It gave me that crucial moment or two that he stopped. It gave me the opportunity to jump over this concrete rail of this house temporarily buying time. And what I would do next was I hoped to roll away, and lose myself in the crowd, take it from there, and it did work. It was a good news, bad news day, however. It was good news for me. I survived, but the Haitian man whose name I never learned, behind me, was gripping on to my shoulder, gripping. His nails were into my T-shirt. And as I moved away, I heard the gun fire, the gunshots go off, and this man, who was foaming at the mouth, and I could feel the jerk of the hand off of my shoulder of the poor Haitian guy who essentially took the bullet that was meant for me.
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