Senior recounts moments of violent assault outside mall

By Sheila Moussavi 2007

“He started firing shots, and I got hit with one, and for the first time I though, ‘Whoa, this is actually serious; he isn’t joking around.'”

When CFHS senior Daina Deery was first ordered to get in the car of a man she’d never seen before outside of College Square Mall last Tuesday, she thought it was a joke and turned away. Her mistake was soon made obvious when the attacker fired several shots, one of which hit her in the foot. After several minutes of struggling to get her in the car, the man drove away and police officers arrived.

Since then, the story has been told and retold, but now, a week later, it seems time to hear what Deery was actually thinking from the moment she realized it wasn’t a joke.

“It was all kind of a blur,” she said. “I can’t remember feeling anger or anything at all.”

As far as Deery can remember, there was only one concrete thought passing continuously through her mind: “I was thinking to God, ‘Don’t let me die — I’m not ready to die.”

But with the exception of this constant prayer, Deery was relying heavily on instinct to save her.

“I knew from Oprah that if you get in the car, there’s a good chance you won’t make it, so there was no way I was going in without a fight,” she said. “I guess I thought if I stall long enough, somebody has to notice that something is wrong here and come help me.”

Sure enough, Deery was faintly aware of a crowd beginning to gather around her, and although she couldn’t tell how many people were there, she said she remembers thinking it was only a matter of time before someone took action. Unfortunately, she was quickly discouraged.

“Someone actually came up to us and could have touched me, but he just ran away. When he left, I was thinking; ‘You’ve got to be kidding me,’ and I didn’t think anyone else would have come for a while.”

What Deery couldn’t have known at the time was that not everyone was as inactive as that unidentified man. CFHS sophomore Barry Firman happened to be driving to Scheels at the time and witnessed most of the incident. Unsure of the best way to approach the situation, Firman had the presence of mind to take down the attacker’s license plate number and call the police.

Although he wanted to physically stop the attack, Firman said, “I didn’t know if he had a gun or not, and I didn’t want to make it any worse by getting involved because then my life’s at risk, her life’s at risk and anything could happen.”

This decision proved to be a good one, and by the time the police had arrived, Deery had sustained no further injuries than the bullet wound in her foot, which she herself considers very fortunate.

“The shot could have hit me anywhere in my body, so I’m glad it hit me in the foot where there won’t be any permanent damage,” she said. “Overall, I think it ended up being the best situation possible.”

This was not the case for everyone. Michael Hruska, who was later identified as Deery’s attacker, was found dead in his car the next morning in a Waterloo park. He died of an apparent suicide. Hruska, who was 33 years old and had a history of bi-polar disorder and mental depression, told Deery that he was going crazy.

Despite any bitterness she may be feeling toward Hruska as a result of their brief but life changing interaction, Deery can still “almost pity him.”

“He wasn’t thinking clearly — he was going insane like he said, and if he wasn’t, I don’t think he would be making those sort of actions. That didn’t really seem like the type of person he was.”

Although she never considered her attacker to be in full possession of his faculties and doesn’t believe him to have any other motives in trying to abduct her, many would expect Deery to nonetheless feel much less secure on a daily basis. But she doesn’t.

“I’m not as worried as some people would think. I guess I’ll always be looking around more when I’m getting out of the car, but I really think it was a fluke, and I happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

In parting, Deery left some advice for others in case they encounter the same situation: “Whatever happens, don’t get in the car … and watch Oprah.”

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