Denise Peraza, an environmental health specialist for San Bernardino County, was enjoying her team’s holiday party when two masked shooters burst into the room and began slaughtering her coworkers. Here’s how she survived after being shot in the back.
Denise Peraza is grateful to be alive. The 27-year-old California state worker nearly became another one of the dead, cut down by Syed Farook, 28, and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, 27, during the terrifying shootings in San Bernardino. Even as she was wounded during the attack, her quick thinking allowed her to escape with her life.
Denise took a bullet in the back during the massacre at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino on Dec. 2. As she lay bleeding, the environmental health specialist reached for her phone to call up her sister, Stephanie Baldwin, reports the Daily Mail. “I just want to tell you that I love you,” she said through her tears, before hanging up.
“Everyone dropped to the floor,” Denise told her relatives, reports the LA Times. “The guys opened fire for 30 seconds, randomly, then paused to reload and began firing again.” Denise tried to hide from Sayed and his wife by ducking under a desk. It was no use, as she ended up getting shot. Despite the severe pain, Denise managed to lie still, playing dead until the shooters left. The police soon arrived and Denise was rushed to a medical center where she was treated for her injuries.
Though Denise says that Farook and Tashfeen were firing randomly, other witnesses claimed they deliberately targeted particular workers, reports Buzzfeed. The couple reportedly pointed their guns at some workers without firing, before allegedly moving on with the slaughter. At the end of attack, 14 people had lost their lives.
“They just started shooting,” said Salihin Kondoker, whose wife, Anies, was inside the conference room when the attack began, reports NBC. He said his wife told him “They didn’t yell or say anything beforehand.” Chad Nwadkie was in the men’s room when the attack began.
“While in there, there was a very big sound, like ‘boom!'” Chad said, according to ABC. “We thought something fell down. I didn’t know someone was shot. Someone yelled, ‘lie down, lie down.’ He was pointing at a bullet hole in the wall. We started hearing some shots. We got down until the police came.”
Syed, a health inspector for San Bernardino County, was at the party earlier in the day. He left and returned with his wife, both heavily armed. After they were done killing, the couple fled the scene in SUVs. The authorities tracked them down to a home in Redlands, California, where they were killed in a shootout.
Our thoughts go out to the survivors and the families of the victims in this horrible shooting.