Friday, December 16, 2011

Allison Griffor


A sound, a blast, a child lies dying

William Griffor recalls night of horror

Their house tells the story of people who left in a hurry.

Halloween cards from grandparents hang on the refrigerator. A half-empty canister of animal crackers sits on the kitchen counter. Toiletries clutter the bathroom sink.

William and Jennifer Griffor will rely on friends to sell their family's remaining belongings — toy cars, stuffed animals, an old-fashioned bread box — at a yard sale this weekend.

The person who fired a shotgun into their West Ashley house on Oct. 25, fatally wounding 5-year-old Allison Griffor as she slept in her bed, remains at large.

Charleston police on Monday night arrested three men in connection with an armed robbery involving a shotgun at the Pierpont Bar around the corner from the Griffors' house, but investigators have not confirmed any link between the shooting and the robbery or other recent crimes in the area.

That's why the Griffors said they left for their home state of Michigan after a memorial for Allison on Saturday afternoon.

"We can't come back to West Ashley with all the shotgun stuff," William Griffor said Wednesday. "I don't know where we're supposed to go."

Smoky fingerprint dust covers the white door to their rented home at 1733 Pierpont Ave., and a missing panel of wood gives a peek into how so many lives changed so suddenly inside this little home last week.

Someone roused the Griffor family at 1 a.m. on Oct. 25 and opened fire with a shotgun from outside their front door.

Several of the buckshot pellets traveled through the door, through a bedroom wall and into Allison Griffor's head as she lay asleep on the bottom of a bunk bed she shared with her older brother. Their baby brother slept in a crib on the other side of the room.

Griffor family spokesman Richard Douglas allowed The Post and Courier inside the home Wednesday, to see how the unthinkable happened, to see how an intruder's attack mortally wounded a sleeping kindergartener.

Chunks of wood had been blown away from the bunk bed's headboard and from one of the posts.
"If she had slept on the other side of the bed, it wouldn't have turned out this way," Douglas said.
William Griffor said he and his wife heard someone kicking the door early that morning. When he walked toward the front of the darkened house, he heard a shotgun blast and ran into his children's room, across a small hallway from his own.

Not realizing that Allison had been shot, he scooped up the children from of their beds and put them on the hardwood floor, away from the window, in his and his wife's bedroom. Griffor said Wednesday that he thought he heard Allison cry, but now realizes that he probably instead heard the sound of life leaving her.

"I think she was immediately with the Lord," Griffor said.

He walked back to the front of his home to "watch the hole" and make sure the shooter didn't try to come in. Finally, after Jennifer Griffor spent an agonizing eight minutes on the phone with a 911 dispatcher, he heard a walkie-talkie outside and knew deputies had arrived.

When they turned on the lights inside the home, he saw the pool of blood around his daughter and realized that he had mistaken her blood for his own.

"Then we were at the hospital," he said.

Allison died there two days later when the Griffors made the agonizing decision to take her off life support after brain scans showed no activity. They donated her organs, which went to three children.

The Griffors held a small gathering for their daughter Saturday at Crosstowne Christian Church before heading to Michigan, where they plan to bury Allison on Nov. 5.

A fleet of minivans and sport utility vehicles pulled up to the house Wednesday morning, and an army of mothers from church, school and the neighborhood hopped out, ready to clean.

The front porch still looks like a shrine to Allison, with partially deflated smiley face balloons that say "Get Well" and a clutch of stuffed animals dropped off by supporters.

Sea shells on the ground recall the family's trips to the beach during a time that made sense. Now, 7-year-old Aiden only knows that his sister went to heaven and 2-year-old Lucas wakes up at night, confused.

William Griffor said the family keeps praying, adding, "We were very happy."


How to help

You can make a donation to the Benefit of Allison Griffor fund at any First Federal of Charleston location.

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