Bank exec told shooting responders: Save my life for my kids

By DAN SEWELL, Associated Press

CINCINNATI (AP) — Believing she was dying after a gunman riddled her body with bullets, a bank executive said Wednesday she urged first responders to save her life for her two small children.

Whitney Austin, 37, survived 12 gunshots Sept. 6. She recounted her ordeal in a taped interview shown Wednesday on ABC's "Good Morning America."

Intent on a conference call she was taking part in on her cellphone that morning, she walked into the lobby as other people tried to signal her away. The gunman shot her as she entered.

"It felt like a burning sensation," she said, and when she began coughing up blood, "My brain immediately went toward: "I'm dying.'"

Lying on the floor, she then focused on wanting to call her family to say goodbye.

"I assumed he saw me move and he shot me several more times," said Austin. She then played dead.

She spotted a Cincinnati police officer and shouted: "I have a 5- and a 7-year-old who need their mother. You need to save me! Come get me!"

Four officers opened fire and the gunman fell, dead.

Her husband, Waller Austin, recounted getting called by police who told him his wife had been involved in an active-shooter situation and was wounded multiple times in her chest.

"I was just, you know, reeling," he said.

Austin was initially listed in critical condition after the shootings, in which the gunman killed three people and wounded another man before police killed him. She was released Sept. 11 from University of Cincinnati Medical Center after undergoing nearly seven hours of surgery that left her body loaded with screws, staples and other surgical devices. She will need more surgery on her right arm. The wounded man was released Sept. 10.

Police aren't sure why 29-year-old Omar Enrique Santa Perez opened fire inside the Fifth Third building where Austin was a vice president.

Florida court records show family members had fought years ago to get him committed to a mental health facility.

Austin has launched a nonprofit foundation called WhitneyStrong, dedicated to reducing gun violence through promoting responsible gun ownership. She said that her children should be safe in their schools and that people like her should be safe in their workplaces.

She planned other interviews Wednesday in her home in Louisville, Kentucky.

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