Two Augustana international students found themselves near the scene of the shooting that ended the lives of 24-year-old Amanda Connors and 38-year-old Tyrone Leeon Smith on Sept. 11 at the 41st Street Cost Cutters. Nearly a week and a half later, a handful of students are still feeling the eerie atmosphere the shooting has left on the neighborhood where Smith lived.
International students from Norway Gorm Haaland and Kaia Rugset were just down the street from Cost Cutters at Scheels taking a break from their studies that Tuesday afternoon. Rugset said they heard breaking news about the shooting on the radio when leaving Scheels.
“I was in my car driving and I was really scared,” Rugset said. “My first thought was that we should leave.”
However, the pair decided to stay in the area to see what was happening.
Rugset said they came within feet of the scene, glimpsing the S.W.A.T. team as the radio announced its initial entry into Cost Cutters.
“At the time I felt like we were safe, but looking back at it I realize that we were probably too close,” Rugset said. “However, the police were right by us, and they never told us to stay back or to go elsewhere. So I guess I just decided to trust them.”
Augustana junior Dylynn Makepeace lives just a few blocks from campus on South Norton Avenue and was informed by a neighbor lady on the night of the shooting that Smith had lived just two houses away.
“It’s scary enough to think that something like this would happen in Sioux Falls, let alone so close to my home,” Makepeace says. “At the time my roommates and I didn’t lock our house during the day, so a string of ‘what ifs’ began racing through my mind.”
They have since taken to locking their doors both day and night.
Makepeace said the occurrence is a somber reminder for students and Sioux Falls residents to take precautionary measures to ensure their safety.
“This event just goes to show that you never truly know your neighbors, so it’s better to be safe than sorry,” Makepeace said.