The Intersection (part 2)
By Jacob Baynham
Several hours earlier, two 15-passenger vans left Xavier and headed south toward Louisville. They were full of students participating in a “rural plunge” experience organized by Ben Urmston, S.J., director of the Dorothy Day Center for Peace and Justice. The group was on its way to Tell City, Ind., where the students would spend a night on a hog farm, learning about small-scale agriculture. But first they were scheduled to hear a speaker in New Albany.
It was an unconnected group of students—a Nicaraguan exchange student, three Japanese graduate students, various others. Most of the students were on the trip to fulfill a requirement for their theology class. They were still learning each other’s names when they crossed the Sherman Minton Bridge from Louisville into Indiana and took the Elm Street exit. One van made it through the intersection before the light changed to red, but the second van became part of the growing pool of traffic and only crept toward State Street.
Anna Burdick, a 19-year-old public relations major, was absent-mindedly watching the cars. “I was looking out the window because we’d been driving so long and I was kind of bored,” Burdick later testified. “A car came up along the side of us … There was a woman hanging out of the window of the vehicle screaming. I assumed that she was screaming at us.”
The other passengers in the van turned to look. “She was saying the ‘F’ word a lot,” Rosie Gibson, an 18-year-old Montessori education major told the police.
“She was pretty steamed,” said David Dunn, a 19-year-old biology major.
The students realized she was shouting over the Xavier van, to someone sitting in a truck in the parking lot next to them. Ducky was returning the insults. It only took a few more words before Cousins threw open the truck door and stepped out onto the street.?Paul leaned over and grabbed a fistful of her black sweatshirt as she was leaving the truck. He was trying to hold on, but she slipped through his fingers. Cousins ran across the street, around the Xavier vehicle, to Ducky’s truck. The students’ eyes followed her from one side of the van to the other. ?“She was ready to fight,” said Dunn.
Bogard had just walked out of Bottles Unlimited and set a six-pack of Smirnoff Ice on the hood of Ducky’s truck when she heard the yelling and saw Cousins running toward her. “She came up out of that truck so fast,” Bogard said. “Just charged toward the truck.”
Cousins started swinging while Ducky was still in his vehicle. Bogard remembers him looking bemused, with “a sort of grin on his face.” He stepped out of the truck and deflected the blows. Ducky was much larger than Cousins. Gibson remembers him saying something like, “What are you going to do?”
That’s when Paul got out of his truck. Walking through traffic, he pulled the Glock from his pocket and wandered into the peripheral vision of everyone who was focused on the fight.
Most of the witnesses thought he was coming to break it up. His right arm was straight against his body. In his hand was a ?black gun.
Lisa McCafferty Friel was just two years out from earning her biology degree from Xavier and interning with the Dorothy Day Center. She was chosen to drive the second of the two vans. “It was like I was watching a movie,” she says.
In the passenger seat, Tom Sheibley, the associate director of the Center, started shouting, “Get down, he’s got a gun!” But Friel lacked the instinct to duck. She had no concept the gun could hurt her. And she couldn’t take her eyes off it.
Neither could Gibson, watching from the window. “When I saw that he had a gun I was just watching him,” she says. She followed Paul’s arm as he leveled the weapon. “I was looking at his face when he pulled the trigger,” she says. “It looked kind of disturbingly calm. He was just looking straight ahead. I really didn’t see much emotion at all.”
The shot hit Ducky in the right side of his stomach, a copper jacketed bullet that tore through his intestine, pierced his inferior vena cava—the largest vein in the body—then severed his left iliac artery and another section of intestine before coming to a rest in the soft tissue on the other side of his body.
Vaughn Jantzen, a self-employed tree-trimmer, heard the shot from the Citibank parking lot across the street. He thought it was a firecracker or a car backfiring. He looked up and saw Ducky. “There was a black man, looked like he was scrambling to get out of the way of something,” Jantzen said.
The students were glued to the van window. “He doubled over in pain and kind of went like, ‘Ohh,’ ” Burdick says. “I could hear the agony.”
Ducky turned and started to run. Paul leveled again, firing a second shot into Ducky’s left shoulder. Ducky ran 96 feet, across an alley and through some bushes before he dropped to the pavement.
Paul and Cousins scrambled back to their truck and drove away.
Inside the van, Sheibley had the presence of mind to read the license plate aloud, repeating it so he wouldn’t forget. Unable to find a pen, one of the students punched the numbers into a cell phone.
After the second shot, Jantzen, the tree-trimmer, ran across the street. “Everybody started screaming and hollering,” he said. “There was a truck that was taking off and it was squealing tires.”
Friel sprung into action. She pulled the van off the road and ran toward Ducky. Trained in CPR since she was 12, she took off her sweatshirt and pressed it to Ducky’s wound, trying to stop the bleeding. “He was going into shock,” she says. “He was shaking.”?Bogard ran toward Ducky, too. She remembers him raising his head and trying to call his wife. “Lisa.”
It was only seconds before the scene was flooded in lights and sirens. The liquor store was a block away from the police station. It was such a small town, Friel says, “You didn’t have to call the police, you just had to yell.”
As EMTs loaded Ducky into an ambulance and rushed him to Floyd Memorial Hospital, students wandered around the lot, some of them crying. When the ambulance left, police circled the scene in crime tape. They asked the Xavier students to look for the bullet casings. Friel had never shot a gun before, never even held one. She didn’t know what a casing looked like, but within a few minutes she had found a small metal cylinder on the asphalt. A detective marked and photographed it. It was such a small piece of metal.
Around the same time, a mile up State Street, Ducky Barnett, a husband, a son and the 36-year-old father of five, was pronounced dead. Six days later he would be lowered into the ground at West Haven Cemetery as his 13-year-old daughter, Joslin, sang “Amazing Grace.” ?His family had to pay the New Albany Tribune to print an obituary.