Nat Berhe wrote that he felt “paralyzed with grief” when he learned of last week’s mass shooting in his hometown of San Bernadino, California, and later found out his cousin, Isaac Amanios, was one of the 14 killed.
The Giants safety, who has been on injured reserve all season, wrote about the experience for The Players Tribune and it was posted on Thursday. Berhe’s account included phone conversations with his parents, who were working in an office building nearby during the shooting, and blunt text messages from his brother Tam.
“Active shooters down the street from the office, we’re all good but I’ll call you in a bit, going to get mom and dad out the office,” read the first text that alerted Berhe to the situation.
He also recounted his relationship with the community, having grown up there.
“People use the phrase ‘close to home’ when a tragedy happens near them,” he wrote. “We try to understand that it’s difficult for people living there, but it always feels far away. You don’t truly grasp it until it affects your own community. You don’t understand how real it feels to see the place you’re from endure such pain.”
Berhe wrote that he was in “complete shock” and did not leave his apartment after hearing the news, which is still ringing in the ears of many.
“Right now, to a lot of people, San Bernardino represents a news story, not a hometown,” he wrote. “To most, it’s just a trending topic. But we’re so much more than that. Isaac is so much more than that. My cousin was not just a statistic. He was not a pawn in a political debate. He was a loving person. He was a family man. He was a human being.
“He will be remembered on his own terms.”