On the 5th of May 2022, I thought I was going to meet my maker for sure. From the start, I was going to travel to Nashville from GA for a close friend’s graduation. I had planned for about a month that I was going to attend, and made sure my schedule was clear for that weekend. I planned to travel on Thursday evening but on Wednesday night my mum called me around 3am to pray as she was feeling uneasy about the journey. We prayed and she felt better.
Thursday arrived and my bus was going to leave by 5:05pm. I checked for Uber and something that would be $45 usually (I live about 45 mins away from the station) was showing almost $100. That was way over my budget so I waited a couple of minutes and checked again and the Uber price had reduced. I left my house early but got to the station late as a result of traffic. My bus left at 5:11 and I arrived at about 5:18 there about. If I had arrived about 10 minutes earlier, I wouldn’t miss my bus.
I had to buy a ticket for the next bus which would leave at about 10:45pm. I was pissed because I was going to wait in the station for about 5-6 hours. (I couldn’t go back home as the Uber cost was expensive). I didn’t want to stay in the station because anyone that knows Atlanta station knows it is not the safest please. My intuition kept telling me that something was wrong and to go home or go somewhere else and come back to the station when the bus was ready to board but I shoved it off and figured everything will be fine.
Not sure the exact time but I wanna say around 7/8pm, there was a scuffle between a man and the security guards. He kept shouting something along the lines of “I didn’t do it.” (I can’t recall his exact words), and the guards kept trying to hold him back. After about 10 minutes it subsided. My mind still kept telling me to leave the station but I didn’t listen.
At around 9:15 there about, while everyone was going about their business while waiting for the bus, shots began to go off right outside the station. People close to the bathroom ran to hide there while the rest of us lay on the floor quickly to avoid bullets. It was one of the most terrifying things I have ever experienced. There were two men screaming and even though those of us lying on the floor were very quiet, we could hear them fight. Several thoughts began to run through my mind. I thought of my mum and I know if anything happened to me she would be devastated. Who would even let her know I was gone? I thought of the New York subway shooting that happened about a month ago and was hoping that would not be my case. I could already see the headline “Shooting at Bus station – this number of people dead/wounded” I had my phone in my hand, but my luggage was covering my hand which was fortunate so no one would see me pressing my phone. I knew I had to give out information real quick about my location so I shared my location with my two closest friends and sent a short message (with obvious errors) that there was shooting going on to pray for me. I also texted another friend who lived about 20 mins ago to send his address and call me Uber (honestly I am not sure what I was thinking because the shooting was outside so I have no idea how I would have got into the Uber). There was a lady lying down next to me and when I looked into her eyes there was so much fear. It gave me a glimpse of how I must have looked too because I was scared to death. After some minutes we could hear the cops sirens and the shooting stopped. Slowly we began to get up from the ground. When people were sure there was no more danger, they began to come out of the bathroom too.
At this point, people were still shaken but quietly began to analyze what had happened. A military man next to me looked up the local news and saw there was always shooting around this particular bus station. People also began to talk about how this was going to make the local news soon.
I was still traumatized and texted my friend who lived about 20 minutes away if he could come/we could go someplace else to stay. But since this happened about an hour before the bus was about to leave there was no sense in that.
About 45 minutes later or so, our bus finally arrived. I and a guy next to me began talking and apparently he was outside when the shooting happened. He said his brother had just dropped him off and driven off when the bullet began flying. I have no idea how he survived it but I am glad he did. He also said (plus other passengers discussing it) that one person had died. When we were getting into the bus, I could see the “crime scene tape” all around the area and the cops all there. We the passengers looked like we were being evacuated.
This is one of my most terrifying experiences but I am grateful to God to be alive. It also got me sad how rampant gun violence is in the states. Like how everyone knew to lay on the floor (not run) or to run in zigzag if there was sporadic shooting. I actually even once watched a video where a lady said one of the culture shocks she had when she left the states to another country was that gun safety drills being taught in school were not normal. This experience was horrifying and very traumatizing and would be my last time taking a bus.