“I don’t know why I wasn’t killed and others were,” Cindy Minshall said. “I wasn’t even supposed to be there that day. I do know that the Lord loved the others just as much as He loves me.”
Cindy recently spoke about being a survivor of the Seal Beach massacre to a spellbound audience at the Oasis Senior Center in Corona del Mar, as part of Orange Coast Christian Outreach Week. Cindy was in Salon Meritage in Seal Beach on Oct. 12for an appointment with Randy Fannin, her hair stylist and the salon owner. At the last minute, she’d changed her appointment from Thursday to Wednesday, landing her at the time and place of the largest mass murder in the history of Orange County. Eight people were killed in a tragic act of violence that apparently involved a custody dispute.
“I’m not going to tell the story, I’m going to tell my story,” Cindy told the audience.
“I’ve seen Randy about every five weeks for over 23 years for my usual cut and color,” Cindy explained. “He was funny, handsome, a Christian, loved to travel, a loving husband to Sandi who was the love of his life, a beloved grandpa, and so much more. And he was my friend.”
Cindy explained that soon after Randy started applying her color, they noticed someone walk by.
“We were looking into the mirror,” Cindy continued. “A minute later, we heard three pops – it sounded like a firecracker or balloons popping; it didn’t frighten me so much because we were all having fun in the salon. We heard a scream. I saw a woman about 5 feet away, her hands were cringing and she was looking up at someone. I saw a man’s hand with a gun; he put it directly up to her chest and pulled the trigger. Her eyes closed. I ran outside.”
“I never saw blood, and wondered if maybe it was a prank,” Cindy recalled. “I still had my cape on. I ran back, to look at Randy’s response so I’d know how I should react. Then that man took three steps towards my friend, Randy, and pulled the trigger. Randy closed his eyes. I ran.”
Cindy fled next door, and huddled in a dark bathroom with another woman.
“I was so afraid, I figured he was coming to us next,” Cindy said “ I kept hearing pops: three, and then a pause, then two pops, then a pause, then three. I kept wondering, ‘How many bullets could he have?’ Then we heard sirens.”
When Cindy heard it was safe to come out, the scene was swarming with cars, fire trucks and people everywhere. She was in a state of shock, but convinced a policewoman to retrieve her purse so she could call her husband. She doesn’t recall their conversation, but remembers a woman from a neighboring salon convincing her to come inside to rinse the color out of her hair. It brought a touch of normality to an otherwise surreal situation.
“If I hadn’t ‘otten out, I would have been victim No. 4,” Cindy said. “There’s no great answer to the “Why?’ question. We are finite and limited, but God is infinite and has an eternal perspective. This gave me an opportunity to reinforce to my children that if something had happened to me, I know where I would have gone. Bad things do happen, but Jesus is always with us, and we can survive them.”
“I like to think we all have guardian angels; on that day my angel pushed me out the door in the same way Randy’s angel escorted him into heaven.
“I am a child of God; I know whose I am,” Cindy continued. “It’s still so raw and so sad. I prayed hard that God be very clear what I’m supposed to do. When asked if I’d speak tonight, I knew I had to say yes. I find joy in my daily life, but I will always be different, but different is OK. I’m a work in progress. The story is in my DNA, but it doesn’t define me. What defines me is my relationship with Jesus.”
Cindy said we try to fit God into who we want Him to be rather than seeing Him for who He is.
“God is not just standing back. He’s being patient,” Cindy added. “He wants people to have the opportunity to choose Him. None of us know if we’ll see tomorrow. Perhaps He’s waiting because He knows heaven won’t be complete without you there. The assurance of God’s love is on the Cross, that is where God assures us that even in the midst of pain and suffering, He is still at work.
“God is loving, powerful and He wants us with Him.”
Cindy Christeson can be reached at [email protected].