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The Worthington News - August 30, 2006

'We were just trying to scare each other'

Girls recall night of shooting, say they meant no one harm

By PAMELA WILLIS

A dark night of "ghosting" became a bloody nightmare for five Thomas Worthington High School seniors last week.

Rachel Barezinsky, 17, was critically injured Aug. 22 when a barrage of bullets erupted from the first-floor window of a house across from Walnut Grove cemetery, striking her in the head and shoulder.

Barezinsky, Una Hrnjak, Maggie Hester and Rachel Breen were passengers in Tessa Acker's car when 40-year-old Allen S. Davis fired two separate rounds from a .22-caliber rifle as they drove slowly past his house once, then a second time that night, according to Worthington police.

Barezinsky was sitting in the front passenger seat.

"It sounded like firecrackers when we heard it the first time," Acker said. "When the sound came again the second time we drove past, we thought someone threw firecrackers and we were screaming and laughing as we drove away. But at the end of the block, Rachel fell into my lap.

"I thought she was joking, but I heard her moan and tried to prop her up and saw the blood," Acker said.

The girls huddled together on a couch at Acker's house Saturday afternoon, recalling the details of that night. Their eyes reflected fear and pain, knowing their friend was still in critical condition at Ohio State University Medical Center.

Anger flared, too, when they talked about Davis' comments to reporters about the second time he fired out the window, his goal to "drive these people off and teach them to stop coming ... "

"He said, 'That did the trick,' " Hester said. "My best friend was fighting for her life in a hospital with a bullet in her head, and he was glad his gun 'did the trick.' "

It was about 10 p.m. Aug. 22 when the girls decided to "scare themselves" by driving past the Walnut Grove Cemetery and the house at 141 Sharon Springs Drive that Davis shares with his mother.

The house overlooks the cemetery, but is nearly hidden by overgrown trees and shrubs, tangled vines and tall weeds.

"We weren't trying to play any kind of prank and weren't trying to threaten or harass anyone," Acker said. "We were just trying to scare each other."

"We didn't even know a man lived there," Hester said. "The house is always dark. Someone at school said they saw an old-lady witch, but we didn't know for sure that anyone lived there."

The girls said they parked the car on the street beside the house. Three of the girls got out of the car, walked a few steps onto the grass and tried to see past the trees to the house, they said. They did not go past the stone wall and gate they thought marked the edge of the property, they said.

"I honked the horn to scare them back into the car," Hrnjak said.

"We didn't speed out of there, just drove slowly, then heard a 'pop, pop, pop' that sounded like a cap gun or firecrackers," Acker said.

But the second pass by the house, to see if someone had thrown firecrackers in the road, was nearly fatal to Barezinsky, as bullets sped through the open car window.

"When Rachel fell and Tessa tried to prop her up, I moved her hood and saw the wound near her shoulder," Hrnjak said. "Maggie called 911, but it was on a cell phone, and we got Columbus. We gave up and looked for a policeman."

Acker said she drove to High Street to head for the police station, then spotted a policeman in front of Graeter's Ice Cream, 654 High St.

"We got out and yelled at him and he was trying to ask us what happened, but we were all hysterically crying, then kept taking turns holding Rachel's head and talking to her," Hester said.

"I held her head but I was shaking and we were all crying and asking the policeman to get in the car and take over, but he said he couldn't touch her," Breen said.

After paramedics arrived, Breen went with Worthington policemen to show them where she heard the shots.

Their clothes stained with Barezinsky's blood, the girls were taken to the Worthington police station and were interviewed by police. They didn't arrive at the OSU Medical Center until after midnight, they said.

"We saw a sea of kids in the waiting room," Hester said.

The four girls said they have spent every night at the hospital since Barezinsky was shot.

Barezinsky endured surgery last Wednesday to reduce swelling in her brain. She was conscious enough Friday to be given a pad of paper, on which she wrote "Tessa?"

"Rachel thought she'd been in a car accident, and she was worried about the rest of us," Acker said.

"Rachel never wants to see anyone down -- she is fighting for herself and for her family," Hrnjak said. "If it had to happen to one of us, she is the strongest to get through this."

Hrnjak and Barezinsky are both cheerleaders at the high school, and are both involved, along with Hester, in Student Advocates for National Peace, Cards for Kids and the Worthington Youth Service Board.

"My family are war refugees from Bosnia and I wanted to raise awareness for refugees -- we were involved in the Invisible Children program last year at Thomas," Hrnjak said. "Maggie and I also went to Washington, D.C., for the Invisible Children Global Night."

Acker volunteers during Special Olympic events and Breen has been involved in church and school volunteer activities, including the Empty Bowl dinner.

Hrnjak wondered why Davis didn't yell or complain if he thought people were bothering him.

After Davis' arrest, police said he complained of "ongoing harassment" by teens for the past several months, even though he didn't contact police about the incidents during that time.

"If we knew this man was offended by us -- if he had yelled to get off his property, or if we even knew someone lived there for sure, we would never have gone close to that house," Hrnjak said.

 

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Welcome and thank you for visiting Rachel's Miracle. An inspirational, heart-warming story of Love and Friendship, Faith, Hope and Recovery. The purpose of this site is to provide Hope to brain injury survivors, caregivers, family members, friends, or anyone else affected by this life-changing injury.

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