Copyright © 2015 Albuquerque Journal
Before last week, Gayle Hanafin’s diary entries were pretty simple.
Wake up, go to work, make supper, go to sleep.
But last Wednesday night, it all changed.
“Scott was shot. Could not sleep,” her entry reads.
Scott is her son, Albuquerque police officer Daniel Scott Webster, who was shot last week during a traffic stop and was on life support before he was taken off and died Thursday morning.
He is known as Dan in Albuquerque, but his mom has always called him Scott.
Immediately after the shooting, Hanafin flew to Albuquerque from her small Illinois city.
In an interview at her hotel early Thursday, hours after her son’s death, Hanafin said she initially had hoped he could recover despite debilitating injuries.
He was shot at least three times, she said – once in his stomach, once in his chest, and once in the jaw area. He had little brain functioning since the shooting, and his carotid artery had to be replaced.
Sometimes he had seizures.
“He looked like he was asleep, but I knew in my heart he wasn’t there. I could tell,” she said through tears. “I think that is when I realized that even if he were to come to, I don’t think he would have been the same. He wasn’t there.”
He grew up in Litchfield, Ill., a city of around 7,000 residents, and his dad was a police officer. He was the elder of Hanafin’s two sons.
She said he was outgoing and played football in high school. She recalls that his first words were “thank you.”
Once he joined the military immediately after graduation, she didn’t get to see him often.
Hanafin said that when she visited him for Balloon Fiesta a few years ago, he was using crutches because he had been trying to hop a fence to chase a suspect, and the fence collapsed, injuring his leg.
Hanafin said she never imagined something more serious would happen. And she is still in shock, a week after that first phone call informing her that her son was shot in the line of duty.
She said she had just emailed him days before, asking for his Christmas gift list. He had yet to send it.
She said she now has a lot of people she wants to thank – strangers who helped her through the first days in Albuquerque.
There’s the man who prayed with her after he saw her crying on the airplane from Denver to Albuquerque.
There’s the city bus driver who saw her lost Downtown as she was trying to get to a church service. He picked her up despite having a bus full of passengers and drove her straight to the church and dropped her off.
And there’s the woman who hugged and cried with her in the University of New Mexico Hospital bathroom after just losing her own family member in a furnace explosion.
“Everybody has just been so wonderful. I just can’t believe it,” she said. “God has been helping me, he really has. Everybody has been so good.”
She has hardly paid for a meal since she arrived, her hotel rooms have been paid for, and Albuquerque police chaplains and officers have been there to support her through it all.
“No mommy should ever lose their children. That’s just not the way it needs to go,” she said. “I’m just so glad we had him for 47 years. He could have gone sooner, but we had him for 47 years. He was a blessing.”