“I was shot about 16 years ago, and I still feel the effects from that day in every aspect of my life,” Mindy Finkelstein told BuzzFeed, in a video describing what it's like to survive a mass shooting. In this important video, Finkelstein details her personal experience of the events that took place the morning of August 10, 1999 at the North Valley Jewish Community Center in Los Angeles.
Mindy was 16 years old and working as a counselor at the center, when white supremacist Buford O. Furrow, Jr. walked into the lobby with a loaded 9mm semiautomatic handgun and opened fire. Just a few months prior, the tragic mass shooting at Columbine High School had shaken the country. Columbine was the deadliest school shooting in US history, and in the wake of its bloody aftermath, the struggle with gun violence continues.
BuzzFeed explains that “Analysis of FBI data from 1970-2013 shows that mass shootings are steadily on the rise.” A mass shooting is defined as a single incident which injures or kills four or more people (the assailant included). According to the BBC, citing data from the Mass Shooting Tracker, 372 mass shootings took place in the US in 2015, killing 475 people and injuring 1,870. The US also leads other counties in deaths by gun violence. Statistics from 2012 state that the number of gun killings per capita was almost 30 times that in the UK. A firearm is responsible for 60 percent of all US murders (every year, approximately 30,000 Americans die from gun violence) — more than double any other country.
Mindy looks back at that horrific day when after a game of Capture The Flag, she and a camper walked into the building, and a man followed, unloading 70 rounds in a spray of bullets. Her campers were between five and six years old. The gunman shot her first, hitting her in the leg, and proceeded to shoot the 65-year-old receptionist, and three young children.
For most survivors, the nightmare never ends. “I typically have a panic attack every time I see a mass shooting,” says Mindy. “A year later I tried to go away to college and had a complete breakdown in within the first six days of being there. A kid walked down the hall with a nerf gun, and he was just having fun… and the second the nerf ball hit me, I broke down. They put me in a psych ward of a hospital and I felt crazy.”
Josh Stepakoff, one of the children that was targeted that day, reported similar residual effects to the Daily News: “It was in the news for two weeks, and it’s now been 15 years, and it’s still a part of my everyday life and still something I deal with every single day.”
"Immediately after the bullets passed through me I remember feeling invisible," Mindy said, describing what it felt like to be shot. And she carries the physical effects of that day everywhere she goes.
"...And it’s a constant reminder of what I went through"
Mindy doesn't believe in the saying "you were in the wrong place at the wrong time." She believes she went through this for a reason, and would not wish the pain on anyone else. “I was in the right place at the right time. I was 16, working with little kids, protecting them and our future as a society."
"He was in the wrong place at the wrong time."
To hear Mindy Finkelstein's story, watch the entire video here: