Today is Friday the 7 of April, I got up probably around 7 or 8 this morning. Once I was got up, I did my normal morning routine and such. I wasn't going to school today because I was going to my Rotary meeting in Täby (which is around 1 hour and a half away to two hours away depending on traffic and such). The Rotary meeting in Täby went well as always. I actually nearly spoke all Swedish to the Rotarians and gave a speech in Swedish in front of the club, and they understood everything I said. This obviously made me really happy, and I was in a good mood. After, the meeting I was supposed to meet up with some Swedish friends and an exchange from Germany in Täby Centrum. However, my Swedish friends ended up not being able to meet up, so I only got to see my German friend. After talking with her for a bit we said our goodbyes, and she went to her class, and I went to buy a new electric razor because mine had broke recently. (This important for later in the story).
After all of this, I got on the Roslagsbana to head back into Stockholm center so I could go back home. When I was getting ready to get off the Rogslagbana, I got a message on the Sweden RYE group chat asking if everyone was okay in Stockholm. At the time I was really confused so I asked what they were talking about and they said not even 10 minutes ago there was a Nice style attack on a street in Stockholm that I have been on a million times. This is when I and many other went full panic mode and started texting and calling all exchange students in Stockholm to see where everyone was and if they were okay. Despite this, I was planning on going on my way back home, through town because that's the only way, until I walked into the subway station and got on the subway only for them to announce, "All subway traffic is being stopped, and all stations need to be evacuated imminently." They did this for three reasons I believe (my person opinions and ideas).
- There were reports of supposed shootings at subway stations coming in at the time (these shootings are unconfirmed at this time because many news sights have conflicting reports on them still)
- They maybe didn't want people on public transport in case it wasn't a lone wolf attack.
- They hadn't found, or even ID'd the attacker and didn't want him to get far, so in order to achieve this, they would halt the transports. (the only effective way to get around)
My first thought was shit where am I going to go now because I don't want to be outside right now. I eventually decided to go back the way I came and find somewhere to stay in Täby or close by. The problem was my calling was now not working on my phone, so I couldn't call ahead and find somewhere to stay (was probably because so many people were calling it overloaded the towers). As I'm heading back, I'm messaging people to say I'm alright and checking on others to make sure they are alright. Eventually, all the students in Stockholm were accounted for. I also should add that this is one of the few times I have seen Swedish strangers in public show emotion because they are normally very reserved. When you looked around, you didn't see a single face that wasn't scared, angry, sad, worried, or suspicious.
I eventually found somewhere I could stay, Viggbyholm with my Rotary counselor and his wife. We sat by the T.V. and watched as the news rolled in and this was when I started to get a lot of the facts. A man had stolen a beer delivery truck and drove it through one of the busiest streets for foot traffic in Stockholm. To explain, on a normal Friday this street is a shoulder to shoulder walking area. On top of this, this Friday was before a holiday break as people are getting off of work, so I imagine it was even busier. After running many people over he crashed the truck into a store and the truck caught fire. The police were quick to respond to such a threat and the special S.W.A.T. like police units were also called in to assist in the hunt for the attacker. (I guess I should add here, this is the first time I have ever seen Swedish police with guns let alone riffles.) Anyone who looked suspicious was handcuffed and sent to be questioned. They also expanded the no subway order to no public transport in the middle of the city or even normal trains at the central station. For a couple hours no new information came so the news did what it does best repeating the same information. To pass the time we had coffee, snacks, and I beat the snot out of my counselor at chess.
While we did that I couldn't help but think what if I hadn't done some of those things earlier that delayed me on my way home. I was probably around 10 minutes or less from where this happened when it did. I could have been there when this happened stuck in the middle of all the commotion, or even have been on that street if I had decided to buy my new razor there instead. Luckily I had made those decisions however and was safe and sound.
Around 5:30 I believe there was a press conference. This was when I had a big realization of how strange this was for Sweden because the conference by American Standards was very unprofessional and unorganized because they never have to do this. Unlike us in the States where these sort conferences happen often. Finally, they were able to get their equipment working and photos were presented of a suspect the police were looking for. I also noted how the political parties and prominent member of society were not quick to jump to conclusions on who might have orchestrated the attacks. This is sadly a stark contrast to the U.S. where many people would be quick to just to conclusions. Another thing also bugged me about the conference, because it didn't make sense to me, they had stated they had intelligence that an attack would happen or be attempted. For me, this doesn't make sense because how could this attack be premeditated if he stole the truck? How would he know it would be there today, at this time, and be available to be stolen?
To continue with my night, the public transport was still shut down at around dinner time so it was decided I would have dinner with my counselor and his wife. We decided to order some pizza and they told us it would be around 15 minutes. When we got there it was swamped with people and they told us it would be another 10 minutes until ours were done (seemed everyone had the same idea as us). While we waited it was kind of really beautiful because strangers were talking to each other (this never happens in Sweden) and asking how the other person was doing and were also trying to make each other smile. We eventually got our pizzas and headed home. We had a nice dinner and when the subways were opened back up I got a ride to the subway. When I got to my station I waited for my host mom to pick my host brother and I up. (He had been stuck in town because he works in the center.)
While I waited, I started to think about small details and then I realized something. People weren't discriminating or scared of people who were different from them. Everyone was colorblind so to say and saw everyone as what they were, other people, scared, just like them. And I think that is really beautiful, that something as horrible as this couldn't divide this city.