Photo showcase: 2012 OWH Year in Pictures – Rebecca S. Gratz
As always, this year was full of moments, such as in a standoff in Alliance, Neb., a children’s garden, Tom Osborne’s retirement, an extreme drought and plenty of sports. To view a photo showcase of my favorite images of 2012, click here.
When a gunman entered an Alliance pharmacy on June 12 and held the pharmacist hostage in a standoff with law enforcement, reporter Joe Duggan and I raced to the western edge of Nebraska. While constantly listening to radio updates and reading developments online, we made the seven-hour drive to Alliance, arriving at about 9 p.m. MST. By then, pharmacist Chas Lierk had escaped and gunman Andy Gonzalez was still holed up inside. Within the next hour and a half, we watched and mostly listened from two blocks away as the Nebraska State Patrol’s SWAT team exchanged a barrage of gunfire with Gonzalez, eventually confirming the 27-year-old’s death at 11:30 p.m. To read Duggan’s story from that night, click here.
Over the next few days, Duggan and I did as much reporting and research as we could into what happened in the pharmacy and Gonzalez’s background. Our main goal, however, was to reach out to Lierk. Obviously, he had been through a harrowing ordeal while being held hostage for seven hours and making a daring escape in which he was struck by two bullets. Three days after the standoff, we knocked on the Lierks’ door. Chas and his wife, Ellen, were kind enough to let us in to tell us how they were doing. With the investigation ongoing, Chas was limited in what he could share with us about that day.
Duggan and I knew Lierk had an incredible story to tell. So, in November, when the grand jury concluded its customary investigation into the officer-involved shooting, Duggan gave him a call. Again, the Lierks were very kind and open, and they allowed us to visit. It was incredible to see how well the Lierks were recovering with the help of faith, family and friends. Chas sat down for an interview in which he relived the entire ordeal. To read Duggan’s article, click here. To view a photo showcase of the standoff and aftermath, click here.
In a much lighter story, I periodically checked in with the Primrose School of Legacy as students planted, tended and harvested vegetables from their garden. To read about their efforts, click here.
With about two-thirds of Nebraska in extreme to exceptional drought, I visited Sargent, Neb., farmer Kasey Tobias as he salvaged what he could of his withered crops and dried pastures. Read more about the drought here.
I really enjoyed photographing the U.S. Olympic Swim Trials. With athletes at the top of their field and great emotion on display, it was fun to watch each night’s competition. It was even more fun to see those same athletes compete in the London Olympics a few weeks later.
The Nebraska football team pulled out some amazing comebacks this year. It all started with a big loss at Ohio State, after which head coach Bo Pelini said the team needed to win out the remainder of the regular season.
And win out, they did. Not counting the Big Ten Championship or the Capital One Bowl, of course.
Other World-Herald photo staff members’ photos:
2012 OWH Year in Pictures — James R. Burnett
2012 OWH Year in Pictures — Mark Davis
2012 OWH Year in Pictures — Chris Machian
2012 OWH Year in Pictures — Matt Miller
2012 OWH Year in Pictures — Alyssa Schukar
2012 OWH Year in Pictures — Kent Sievers
2012 OWH Year in Pictures — Ryan Soderlin