23 years have passed since the deadly Good Guys! hostage situation in South Sacramento, but survivors are still tormented.
“From day to dawn. I’m gonna remember looking out that window and the feeling that I had wanting to be released,” said Lisa Joseph.
Joseph was one of 38 surviving hostages. The gunmen killed three other people during the standoff, including Joseph’s uncle, Fernando Gutierrez.
“The terror was just so unbelievable and he tortured us for so long. Nine long, torturous hours,” said Joseph.
The standoff is still the biggest hostage rescue mission in United States history.
“I started having horrific pains and cramps and I was sweating. I was five months pregnant at the time,” said Joseph.
The ordeal was so traumatic, Joseph miscarried in a restroom at the electronics store. The entire time, one of the gunman held her at gunpoint.
“He said we’re putting a 12-gauge to your head. We’re putting a 9-millimeter to your uncle’s chest. Your cousin is going outside to get that vest. And if your cousin does not come back, you two are the first to go. Execution style,” said Joseph.
When Joseph’s cousin, Priscilla Alvarez went outside to retrieve the vest, a sniper shot aimed through the store’s front window and shot one of the gunmen. In the minutes that followed, Joseph lay on the floor and played dead, while her uncle was shot to death.
“I feel that since I lost my unborn child and I lost my uncle, I want something positive to come of it,” said Joseph.
Joseph is writing a trilogy of books about the tragedy. Her first book, titled Heads or Tails: A True Hostage Story of Terror, Torture and Ultimate Survival details the nine-hour hostage situation. Joseph is currently writing her second book in the series, tentatively titled: Help Me Pass. This book acts as a guidebook for parents and educators to help troubled students thrive in school. It also focusing on helping students who may be struggling with mental disorders.
“I don’t believe this is a random act of violence. I believe this was a predictable act of violence,” said Joseph.
Joseph said the gunmen ranted about not receiving the education they were entitled to, leaving them jobless and hopeless. She is now making it her life’s mission to get to the bottom of what was troubling them.
“I suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. A very severe fashion. So I don’t feel that I will completely ever heal,” said Joseph.
Although she may never heal, Joseph said she has forgiven the gunmen.