Josh Stepakoff (JS) and Alan Stepakoff (AS)
Josh Stepakoff (JS): I remember playing capture the flag, and I looked up and I saw somebody who was holding something at his hip — I thought it was a power drill. And then the next thing I remember is someone picked me up. And I just remember kind of bouncing in their arms. They put me down on the floor and they covered me with blankets. And I just kept screaming, ’Call 911. Call 911.’
Alan Stepakoff (AS): I remember sitting in the hospital room with you that evening, and his picture was on the TV. You looked up at it and you said, you know, ’That’s the shooter.’ Do you remember why you thought he might have shot you?
JS: I don’t think it was until I was preparing for my bar mitzvah that I really started to think about the fact that it was because I was Jewish. And you know, I know you and Mom were so careful about making sure that I didn’t stray away from my religion just because I was targeted for it.
AS: The last thing I wanted you to do was to be afraid of being Jewish. Some of it went back to my childhood. My mother had told me stories from the ‘40s and ‘50s. Now all of a sudden, for my six-year-old to experience this —
AS: You know, one of the most difficult things was for me was I could never assure you I could protect you. You know, I could never put my arms around you and say, ‘Don’t worry, Josh, I’ll keep you safe.’ Because I couldn’t.
JS: For me, as I started to reflect on why I was shot, I started to think of all of the good things that came from Judaism as opposed to this one terrible thing. I started to remember that it’s my view on life. It’s making sure that I treat everyone with compassion, and that was more of what Judaism meant to me rather than a threat to who I was.