Berry Tramel: Unless the Thunder tumbles when regular season resumes, the 76ers get OKC's picklive: White House Task Force provides COVID-19 updatesLive updates: Oklahoma coronavirus cases now 719; 30 dead

NewsOK: Oklahoma City News, Sports, Weather & Entertainment

OKC Central blog: Good still overcomes tragedy and fear

Related content

Document: View the arrest warrant affidavit Penn Square Mall shooting suspect was local basketball standout Listen: Shopper inside Penn Square Mall describes her experience Thunder players at Penn Square Mall during shooting, but team 'never in danger'


A decade has  passed since I first met restaurateur Shaun Fiaconne. He quickly won the trust of the late Paseo visionary John Belt when Belt was looking for someone to revamp the historic Picasso’s and went on to opening other restaurants and even building infill development that is now home to shops and his restaurant Frieda’s.

I remember the first time I met his fiance. I’ve enjoyed following his progress as a businessman helping Paseo to reach its full potential.  And it’s a reminder of how time keeps moving forward that he now has a family. So it is with tears and a smile that I and many others have read his account of being caught up in the shooting that occurred at Penn Square Mall on Thursday.

With both permission from Shaun and other involved parties that I am happy to share this moment of good rising out of one of the worst moments a husband and father can go through. These are the thoughts Shaun wrote Thursday after the shooting at Penn Square Mall:

Photo by Mandy Stansberry
Photo by Mandy Stansberry

 “This afternoon, I had the terrifying reality of experiencing an active shooter situation with my family. Against my better judgment, I canceled afternoon meetings and agreed to meet my wife, three-year-old little boy and nine week old daughter to see Frozen 2. It seemed like a good time since no one would be there and Charlotte could nurse and I could spend some time with Scout.

As usual, I got home at the last minute and wanted to get out of my work clothes. Emily met me at the door and I ran inside and changed without turning the car off - inadvertently leaving the key in my other pants pocket. Obviously, I didn’t realize this until I got to the mall and couldn’t lock the doors or restart the car. I figured I’d Uber home after the movie and get the key since we live so close.

About 15 minutes into the movie we started getting news alerts of an active shooter in the mall. We were in the last theater near a one-way exit door – one way in, one way out – so I left them there to go investigate. I saw a couple guys talking in the hallway that were about my age that looked like kind people so I approached them to see what was going on. They explained to me what they knew very calmly and put me as much at ease as one can be in a situation like that, so, I went back to be with my family.

About 15 minutes later the AMC staff came and evacuated all of the theaters. We were the last ones to leave the mall. A swarm of police with A.R. 15‘s around their necks and pistols drawn corralled us all into the central hallway of the theater. I was about to have to walk my entire family through that unknown. We arrived pushing my daughter in her stroller at the very back of the line as Emily held our son in her arms. The look on my face must have been self evident as guy I spoke to earlier put his hand on my shoulder and said: “Hey man, everything is going to be fine. Just stay with us and follow us out.” I love risk and thrive in that environment but when it’s your family it’s something entirely different.

As I fumbled with diaper bags and blankets and children things started to happen. Someone took the bag off my shoulder and grabbed stuff out of my hands so I could push the stroller and we started to move. It was effortless - everyone just pitched in and it happened. The guy helping me rolled back the sun cover on our stroller and saw my daughter. He said “we’re going to have to walk down some stairs in a moment, why don’t you take her out now and I’ll carry that for you” which he did.

It was then noticed that we were surrounded by a lot of very tall guys. I noticed Steven Adams first. Then Clay Bennett. Then and realized we were in the middle of the OKC Thunder team and the guy helping me was Sam Presti. I realized that we were with their security team and I realized that rather than focus on his own players he presumably, innately thought of his own family and focused on helping us instead.

He proceeded to push our stroller through the mall as I held Charlotte constantly checking on us. When we got outside, the police told us we were free to find our cars and leave. In that moment I realized I had no key and that I had no way of getting home. The police wouldn’t let someone in with my key and they certainly wouldn’t let an Uber come pick us up. I turned to Sam and said: “I have an odd question to ask you, but I think we might live in the same neighborhood and I have no way of getting home.“ I explained to him what happened with my keys and without skipping a beat, he offered to take us home. As someone in the hospitality field it is not easy for me to do that – I’m the one who is supposed to go out of their way to help others – but I had no other choice. His graciousness in that moment was without hesitation.

(Oklahoma City Thunder General Manager, Sam Presti speaks to Star Spencer High School students Friday during his  Forward Thinking Leadership Program at Star Spencer High School)

Sam’s kindness, patience and humility in a situation of duress speaks volumes to a person's character. It reminded me of a Humankind Hospitality training program we went through a few years earlier – not ironically hosted by the late Pete Winemiller, then director of guest relations for the OKC Thunder called CLICK training. As a business person, you are always studying successful organizations to see what makes them great, and today I witnessed that first hand. It is abundantly clear why the Thunder are such a success. It’s the people and their leadership and it was inspiring to be in that orbit.

I’m reluctant to share this story because I know people who are of high character don’t want this type of attention. They do it because it’s the right thing and likely don’t give it another thought. That said, it is better for people to know what an amazing group of ambassadors the OKC Thunder are and how we are undoubtedly being represented around the world. Tragedies like today often reveal normal people doing great things and I’m proud to say I bore witness to that. Cheers to Sam and cheers to the Thunder - well played and many thanks."

Related Photos
<figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-9317c38e85caeee98fa10ce4220fa55b.jpg" alt="Photo - " title=""><figcaption></figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-e518a1bf5f44689f2276743f82b9549c.jpg" alt="Photo - " title=""><figcaption></figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-9127293ae2fa4a11feeaa55693f7f46d.jpg" alt="Photo - " title=""><figcaption></figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-5044622c0abe6aa50cb34f505e5b11be.jpg" alt="Photo - Photo by Mandy Stansberry" title="Photo by Mandy Stansberry"><figcaption>Photo by Mandy Stansberry</figcaption></figure>
Steve Lackmeyer

Steve Lackmeyer is a reporter, columnist and author who started his career at The Oklahoman in 1990. Since then, he has won numerous awards for his coverage, which included the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, the city's... Read more ›

NewsOK has disabled the comments for this article.