Deseret News exclusive: Caught in the crossfire, a Utah family's harrowing firsthand account of the Kenyan mall massacre
We were especially lucky and blessed because the kids did not see bodies or carnage. There was nothing to see along the route we took to run away from the closet and out of the parking garage. There was blood on the sidewalk and down the street as we ran out, but the kids didn't notice. The kids also were spared a large part of the mental anguish because we told them the whole time it was a robbery, and that if anyone found us in the closet we would just give them our items of value and they would leave us alone. They figured out it was a terrorist attack about an hour before we were rescued due to the texts and whispering back and forth about Christians being singled out from Muslims and a possible rescue. The final hour ended up being very traumatic for them, but fortunately the gunfire was just occasional by that point.
Unfortunately there were a number of casualties amongst people that our family knows, which has been difficult for the kids. A girl in our son's class that also rides the kids' school bus was wounded, and her father was killed. A student a year younger than our son was wounded and his mother was killed. A student that the kids know from a different school was shot and severely wounded, and his mother and a sibling were unaccounted for as of the last time we received news. The mother of a girl on our son's swim team was killed. There were quite a number of girls from our son's grade that were in the mall for a surprise birthday party. Two of them were held hostage but somehow got out. None of the others were held or injured.
This experience has been very difficult, and although we feel that we will recover from the trauma with time, we worry about the impact on our children. We struggle to deal with the emotions and sometimes the lack of emotion. I struggle to overcome the anger. We are deeply saddened by the pain, grief and loss that so many are dealing with. Our hearts ache for them.
Above all we are grateful for our families, our loved ones and our faith. It has been comforting to hear from so many and know that we are in their thoughts and prayers. In the end, all that matters is holding tight to our families and our loved ones, and the hope and faith that we, along with so many others, can move forward and find peace.
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