A Kentucky woman who is still recovering after being shot 12 times in a deadly attack on a bank earlier this month has shared the strange range of emotions she is experiencing in the wake of the tragic event.
Whitney Austin, a 37-year-old mother of two, was in Cincinnati for a meeting at Fifth Third Bancorp’s headquarters on September 6, and happened to enter the building’s lobby as the attack was underway.
She says people were shouting warnings to her not to enter the building, but she was more focused on a conference call she was on than in her surroundings.
Three people were killed by the assailant, while Austin and one other were wounded. Suspected gunman Omar Enrique Santa Perez was also fatally shot by police. No motive has been released by officials.
“I immediately started to cough up blood,” she says, recalling her belief she was dying and her despair she would not get to say goodbye to her family.
“When I take myself back to that moment of squatting in the revolving door … I can’t reconcile that I lived,” she told Good Morning America on Wednesday. “I have my kids. I get to go back to my life.
“I only have thanks and gratitude,” she added.
Austin spent five days in hospital, and has more surgeries ahead of her to treat her shattered right arm.
“If I think about the victims … that’s when I get emotional. I don’t have anything to be depressed about. I don’t have any sorrow. … I survived.”
Austin also said she thinks often also of the shooter, whom she didn’t know but for whom she feels compassion. “I feel sorry for him and sorry for his family,” she said. “I’m sorry that we didn’t provide you the support necessary to not be in this position. We all have a lot of responsibility to take care of the mentally ill.”
The experience has inspired her to become an activist and to advocate for better gun control through her non-profit Whitney Strong.
“This is about making sure that our kids can go to school and they don’t have to participate in active shooter drills on a monthly basis. This is so people like me can walk into their place of employment and not get shot 12 times.”
Watch Whitney Austin recount her extraordinary tale of survival below:
Read the full story at ABC.