What 'Don't Worry, I'll Keep You Safe' Means When Your Child Survives A Shooting Josh Stepakoff remembers the day he was shot at his Jewish day camp in Los Angeles. He was 6. His father, Alan, recalls there was no manual on how to parent your child through something like that.
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What 'Don't Worry, I'll Keep You Safe' Means When Your Child Survives A Shooting

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What 'Don't Worry, I'll Keep You Safe' Means When Your Child Survives A Shooting

What 'Don't Worry, I'll Keep You Safe' Means When Your Child Survives A Shooting

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(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Time now for StoryCorps and the story of Josh Stepakoff. In 1999, Josh was at a Jewish day camp in Los Angeles when a white supremacist opened fire. Josh was shot along with four others. One person died. Josh recently spoke about that day with his father, Alan.

JOSH STEPAKOFF: I remember playing capture the flag. And I looked up, and I saw somebody who was holding something at his hip. I thought it was a power drill. And then the next thing I remember is getting up from the ground and running as fast as I could. You know, it's not often that I get to hear how your morning was.

ALAN STEPAKOFF: It started out as a normal morning, dropping my children off at camp and then up at the hospital. I remember sitting in the hospital room with you, and his picture was on the TV. And you looked up at it, and you said, that's the shooter. And right after the shooting, you were scared to death of helicopter sounds or loud noises. There definitely was not any manual of how to deal with this as a parent. I don't know whether you remember - I took you to a Civil War reenactment. And when the cannons started firing, you jumped in my arms, and we got in the car and drove as far away as we could.

J. STEPAKOFF: I think it was hard for me to wrap my head around the fact that this was not normal. I thought everyone had a hard time sleeping over. I thought everyone had hard times in the dark.

A. STEPAKOFF: You know, one of the most difficult things for me was I could never assure you I could protect you. You know, I could never put my arms around you and say, don't worry, Josh, I'll keep you safe because I couldn't. I just thank God every day you weren't killed. I don't know whether you've ever envisioned yourself as a family man - married, children. Would you tell this to your child?

J. STEPAKOFF: I go back and forth with that. I think about it a lot. I think about my child's sixth birthday and what that'll be like for me. I don't know.

A. STEPAKOFF: So you've got your bachelor's degree in psychology. Do you see yourself counseling these kind of people in the future?

J. STEPAKOFF: Half of me says yes, and half of me says no, partially because I almost think that I won't be able to differentiate my life from theirs. But nobody tells you what to expect after getting shot. And so the other part of me just so badly wants to be a light in someone's life when they think it's dark.

(SOUNDBITE OF BLUE DOT SESSIONS' "FILING AWAY")

MARTIN: Josh Stepakoff, who has survived the LA Jewish Community Center shooting in 1999. He was talking there with his father, Alan. StoryCorps' Great Thanksgiving Listen is coming up. Educators can learn more at thegreatlisten.org.

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