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Woman haunted by memories of Boise Towne Square shooting. She’s likely not alone

Misty Drake’s recollection of last year’s shooting at Boise Towne Square mall is vivid, and so is her psychological trauma.
Credit: Brian Myrick
Misty Drake, at right, stands with her friend Criss Alex Thief in the parking lot of Boise Towne Square mall near the entrance to Macy's department store on Wednesday. Thief's 'security' jacket is an accessory he purchased online and he is not a security worker at the mall or other entity.

BOISE, Idaho —

This story originally appeared in the Idaho Press. 

Misty Drake’s recollection of last year’s shooting at Boise Towne Square mall is vivid, and so is her psychological trauma.

She remembers the sound of gunfire and spotting the gunman, Jacob Bergquist, in the Macy’s parking lot. She hearkens back to Target, where she saw people ducking behind vehicles and running for cover.

And, of course, she remembers the finality of the incident, when the shooter turned the gun on himself behind Dave & Buster’s.

Drake still has mental trauma from that day. She goes through bouts of anger and rage. She can have panic attacks when someone knocks on her front door. She goes to therapy twice a week and hasn’t been able to return to the mall.

She also said some people have diminished her feelings because she didn’t have a first-hand account of the fatal shooting.

Drake believes that she’s not alone.

The one-year anniversary of the tragic event is fast approaching. And while the incident shook Boise to its core, Drake is looking to give back. She said she’s establishing her own trauma group to help those who lived through that day – whether they witnessed the incident, were present at the mall when it took place, or are simply Treasure Valley residents feeling residual effects.

“In 10 months since the shooting, there has not been a single support group for us out there,” Drake said. “Some folks might not feel comfortable with one-on-one therapy but they might feel comfortable coming and sitting (with others).”

“If you build it, they will come. You see a need, fill the need.”

Oct. 25, 2021

Drake said she was at Dillards the day of the shooting, which left two dead aside from the gunman and four injured. As she was leaving the store, she heard loud explosions. 

“Heard the shots,” she said. “Honestly thought it was fireworks.”

She and her friend, Criss Alex Thief, got in Drake’s car and went to grab lunch. When they drove through the parking lot, Drake said they saw people scattering out of Macy’s, and Bergquist was walking towards their vehicle.

“I made my comment, I will run this person over if they get in the way of me and my food, because I was extremely hungry,” Drake recalled.

Drake said she saw Bergquist struggling with what she thought was his sweatshirt. She learned later that it was actually a firearm. Inside, Jo Acker, a 26-year-old security guard at the mall; and 49-year-old Roberto Padilla Arguelles, who was shopping at the mall, lay dead. 

“There’s still a survivor’s guilt that I’ve had to deal with because I was in the car. I crossed paths with him,” Drake said. “Had I run him over, would he have been able to kill himself? Would we have gotten the answers that we haven’t been able to get? We haven’t been able to get closure.”

Her friend Thief said, “If we had any inkling of a weapon. ... We probably would have ran him over. Hit him or call the cops.”

Drake and Thief grabbed lunch at the Carl’s Jr. drive-thru across the street and then made their way to Target, located about a block north.

Once in the Target parking lot they said they heard loud noises again and saw a store employee run inside. They saw three women duck behind a car for cover. It was then they realized that there was an active shooter.

“We had a moment when we looked at each other to confirm that what we were feeling was actually what we thought,” Thief said.

Drake and Thief said they began driving around the parking lot to try to help others.

“Either they can get in the car or we can use the car to protect people,” Drake said.

“That’s what you want in this situation,” Thief added. “Your flight or fight kicked in and we kicked in. We protect.”

Moments later, across the street from Target, Bergquist himself was dead after a shootout with police.

Mental health

Drake is most likely not alone in dealing with trauma from the event.

Emily Bullard, a licensed clinical social worker and intern supervisor at A Body and Mind Health Services in Boise, said “it’s very possible” that people are still experiencing symptoms and reactive behaviors from last year’s shooting.

Bullard said she knows an employee at the Boys & Girls Club who said kids, parents and staff were affected by the event. 

“Just as an example, think about how many parents who had kids attending the Boys & Girls Club are nervous and a little anxious to drop their kids off,” Bullard wrote in an email. “Now, when kids ask to go meet their friend at the Boise mall, some parents might no longer feel comfortable with that idea and will only let their kid go if they go with them."

Bullard pointed out that when dealing with a traumatic event, it’s important to recognize that each person is affected differently depending on their life experiences.

Bullard said it would not be uncommon for someone at the mall or in the vicinity of the mall at the time of the shooting to find themselves now avoiding the area altogether. She said going to a mall in another city could lead to trauma symptoms such as an increased heart rate, anxiety or the urge to leave.

And she added that those who had previous trauma experiences might have a relapse of thoughts, feelings, behaviors and symptoms if the mall shooting touched their lives.

“If someone is noticing symptoms they are not used to having or if they have been behaving differently, it is really important for them to become aware of these changes but not to judge themselves harshly or listen to others tell them they should not feel that way,” Bullard said.

Drake said that there is a lack of services for mental trauma victims in the immediate region, which is why she’s looking to start the support group.

Bullard concurred. Additionally, a representative from A Body and Mind Health Services said that Idaho in general lacks resources for mental health treatment.

"Absolutely, most places who offer mental health services have a waitlist with large numbers of clients waiting to be seen,” Bullard wrote. “The wait time can be even worse for our community members who have Medicaid or Medicare as their primary or only insurance."

Would more information help?

Drake has been frustrated with the city of Boise and its police department, which she believes have fallen short in helping those who were at or near the mall that day. She said a lack of answers has contributed to her mental anguish.

Drake pointed out that after a rush of initial press releases following the shooting, little to no information has been disseminated. In particular, she wonders, what was the motive, why did this happen, and was police response timely and adequate?

A review of the city’s website shows that four news releases pertaining to the incident were sent out in nine days following the event. None have come since.

There was an initial report the day of the shooting; an update the following day with a timeline of events and a rundown of the department’s preliminary investigation; another update on Oct. 28 that detailed the shooter’s actions in the mall leading up to the shooting and the shooting itself, along with information for those seeking counseling; and a note from police chief Ryan Lee on Nov. 2, offering words of encouragement to local residents while reaffirming that Boise is a safe place to live.

On June 12, the Ada County coroner’s office said that Bergquist died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

“We still seek answers,” Drake said. “And short of that three-day ‘we will get through this together’ you have done nothing but what seems like a gag order.”

Haley Williams, spokesperson with the Boise Police Department, told the Idaho Press for the first time that a police report detailing the entire investigation is available through a public records request. The Idaho Press has requested the report. 

“During any incident, the police department takes great care to share confirmed, accurate information in a timely manner,” Williams said in an email. “The day of the shooting and in the days that followed we provided as much of that detail as possible including photos and a timeline of the incident. There was also an officer-involved shooting investigation that happened alongside the investigation into the shooter.”

She added that Boise police have responded to media questions surrounding the incident along with victim requests for services. The department also attended a community vigil as well as other community meetings and released updated crime stats data in the city, Williams said.

A call for help

Drake said the therapy group she hopes to form will be a chance for those impacted to get together and share their experiences.

“I’m looking for mental and emotional healing,” she said.

She hopes to bring on therapists who can help lead the effort. Her vision is a six-day-a-week operation that also visits communities outside of Boise.

“You have people that day from Mountain Home. You have people from Nampa,” Drake pointed out. “One of the people that was killed is not even an American citizen, and his family is currently suing because of issues.”

Drake said she knows people who stopped working at the mall because of what happened. She added that many others fall into her category – individuals in the area that day, who may or may not have had a brush with the shooter, who must live with that memory for the foreseeable future.

She said during a Wednesday interview at Boise Towne Square that it was the first time she had been there in nearly a year. 

“How many people are still struggling to this day, can’t or won’t be able to receive help because they don’t feel like they’re allowed to be a victim?” she asked.

Those looking to get involved with Drake’s mental trauma group can visit and send a message to Boise Mall Survivors on Facebook or email c91misty@hotmail.com.

Teddy Feinberg is the Managing Editor at the Idaho Press. He can be reached at 208-465-8110. Follow him on Twitter: @TeddyFeinberg

This story originally appeared in the Idaho Press. Read more at IdahoPress.com 

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