Shock, worry, hatred and prayer: Juneau reacts to attacks

Posted: Tuesday, September 11, 2001

Mostapha Beya, 29, recently immigrated to the United States from Morocco. He moved to Juneau 25 days ago after staying briefly in New York and Washington, D.C. This morning's attacks were a grim reminder of the kind of religious conflicts he lived with in northwest Africa.

"People were just sitting at their desks at work," he said of the destruction at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. "They didn't have a chance. I don't know how they think they can kill others like that, innocent people."

Throughout Juneau, residents woke to the news and reacted with shock, prayers and phone calls to friends and relatives living or working near the destruction.

"I just grabbed my first cup of coffee, heard the news and wondered 'Am I really awake?' " said security guard Brian Pringle at the Federal Building.

As he emerged from the Federal Building after finishing his morning workout, Gene Miller looked stunned.

"I'm frankly still in shock," Miller said. "Most of it hasn't come home yet. It's surreal right now."

"I just heard about it on the bus," said Sophia Toupin, 41, waiting for a connecting ride from the Federal Building to her job at Children's Community Center. "I am pretty much a pacifist, but we will need to take some kind of retaliation. This is a strong reaction from me. But my family's up and down the East Coast, and I am really scared about going to war. My son just turned 18."

Many speculated terrorists connected with exiled Saudi Arabian militant Osama bin Laden were behind the attack.

"I think this is the beginning of a war," said Rob Kenney, 35. "If a country attacked some country's infrastructure, they'd fight back."

Kenney, a co-owner of Java Jazz and a commercial fisherman, canceled a ferry trip to Petersburg today.

"I didn't want to be away from my family," he said at his downtown business. "I just want to go home and be with my son, my 4-year-old. I don't want him to know about this. ... He doesn't understand, and this shouldn't have to be an issue for a 4-year-old."

Others with older children out of town took to the phones. Chava Lee, active in the Juneau Jewish Community, called her daughter in Manhattan several times without getting an answer.

"There's just not the words to describe what all this means and what all the fallout will be. It's horrific," Lee said, choking up as she spoke.

At the Juneau Airport, stony silence was broken only by reports of the destruction from CNN echoing from televisions throughout the building.

"I guess I'll just get a hotel room tonight, and I'll probably leave tomorrow but I don't know," said John Tarolli from Orange County, Calif. "There's a lot of cost involved in this kind of thing. I don't know. I'm just in shock really."

Andrea Story was on her way to Ketchikan on business. In the wake of the news she sat propped against the gift shop wall staring at the television.

"A million things go through your mind. You know you try to be calm," she said. "It's like you're split in half. It seems part of you is so far away from it but when you think about it you're really close to it, especially at an airport."

Gary Bowen, 53, a Vietnam veteran and commercial fisherman, said he was outraged by the attack and wanted quick action.

"We should have public executions for terrorists," he said while eating breakfast at the downtown McDonald's. "On national TV, to say, 'This is what happens to terrorists.' "

At Northern Light United Church, the Rev. Pastor Greg Lindsay encouraged people to pray for the victims and all the people involved in the tragedy

"My hope is we don't begin to react in a way that's going to lead to more violence, but that we can find it in our heart to really pray for peace," he said.

Diocese of Juneau Bishop Michael Warfel was in Washington, D.C., for a meeting of Catholic bishops. He phoned the diocese this morning and urged people to "pray for those who have died, as well as for those who are still suffering.

"Pray for our president and governmental leaders as they grapple with this tragic situation," he said. "Pray that people will refrain from a reactionary response and not strike out in vengeance. Pray for peace."

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