They reached Friars Road, and Parker sprinted across oncoming traffic. Christina says watching him weave in and out was like a real-life version of the video game Frogger.
“I’m surprised he wasn’t hit by a car. I was so focused on crossing Friars, I didn’t even notice that my neighbor had been driving behind me in his car, or that an off-duty Border Patrol agent was chasing Parker, too.”
When Parker made it across Friars, the agent tackled him and pinned him to the ground. The police were called.
Christina’s next-door neighbor had heard her screams and jumped in his car. He picked Christina up and drove her across the street.
“I sat on the curb across from Thomas Parker and stared at him. He looked at me and then looked away. His face was blank. He knew it was over. I wanted to memorize his face in case there was a trial.”
Two days later, on July 3, after evidence had linked Parker to seven different crimes — rapes and home invasions — police officers found him in his cell, hanging from a bedsheet.
Parker, known to friends and family as “Jim,” owned a popular coffee shop in Little Italy called It’s a Grind. He was a husband and father to two small children — news reports described Parker as a family man. His neighbors in the quiet San Diego suburb of Tierrasanta were shocked.
After being shot by Andy Williams, Peter made a decision. “I am going home. There is no way I am leaving in a body bag. One way or another, I am watching TV tonight.”
He saw his own blood pooled on the floor.
“I couldn’t believe it. I thought, Did I really get shot? Am I shot!? Can I walk? Can I move? Am I paralyzed?”
A minute later, Andy came out of the bathroom. He was 10–15 feet from Peter.
“I wasn’t sure if he was coming out to walk around the campus to shoot more people or if he was coming out to breathe. To get his attention, I started screaming at him. I wanted to keep his focus on me, instead of having him walk off. Once I did that, he turned and looked down at me. He smiled and went back into the bathroom. I heard more shots fired.”
Moments later, police officers came running down the hallway. Peter’s coworkers used a metal lunch cart to get him out of harm’s way.
“They put me in the nurse’s office. That’s when reality started to set in. The nurse asked who to call. I told them to call my mom. Someone had told my mom already. When I was taken to Mercy Hospital in Hillcrest, she was there. Lots of family and friends showed up. Two other people that got shot were taken there, as well. They told me, ‘Thank you.’”
Peter wondered if any of it was real — it seemed to him like a dream.
The day after Thomas Parker attacked Christina Hennigan, she went to work. She treated it like any other day. But once she got home, her phone rang off the hook. Reporters called, one after the other, to get a statement. Media camped out in front of her home.
“It was a circus,” she recalls.
She stopped answering the phone. Meanwhile, her husband Matthew called several times to let her know he was on his way home. She never picked up.
When he arrived, she was in their bedroom talking to her mom on the phone.
“I heard footsteps on the stairs and freaked out. I told my mom that someone was in the house. She tried to calm me down. When my husband walked into the room, I screamed bloody murder.”
That’s when Christina realized that the attack was a bigger deal than she had initially believed. She realized that her life was going to be different from now on.
Christina and Matthew have worked out a system. He always announces his arrival, shouting so that Christina knows he is home. He doesn’t want her to worry that her life is in danger.
“Now,” she says, “I never get out of my car unless I shut the garage door first.”
For three years, Christina and Matthew remained in the condo where she was attacked.
“I would get flashbacks in the garage while doing laundry,” she says. “It was eerie. It’s funny, the things I remember and the thoughts that went through my head that day. I can still picture [different] moments. While I was chasing Parker, I was barefoot. My feet hurt. I looked down at them and thought, I will never run a marathon barefoot. It’s weird, the average things that run through your mind during a traumatic event.”
Christina remembers the adrenaline. “Someone handed me a phone to call my husband. I was pounding on it, trying to dial. I had so much adrenaline, my whole body was shaking. I could’ve broken that phone.”
Christina is now hyper-aware of her surroundings. “I pay closer attention. This sounds morbid, but I am always looking for a weapon, a soap dish, a pencil that I can shove up someone’s nose. Anything, really.”
Christina has often wished that Parker had never entered her life. “But I feel like it was meant to be. I don’t know if anyone else would’ve stopped him. I was his seventh victim. I think that maybe it happened to me for a reason. Who knows how long he would have been doing this to women? With me, he changed his MO. Before me, he’d been targeting petite Asian women. He was escalating, trying something new. Who knows how bad it would’ve gotten.”
Christina never met any of Parker’s other victims. She did, however, speak to a few of them through law enforcement.
“We exchanged messages through the police officers. Many of [the victims] were upset when [Parker] hung himself. They wanted answers. But you’re never going to get answers from a person like that.” When she says this, Christina’s voice is full of rage.