Chico, Calif.— On Thursday mother of three Tiffany Phommathep gave her first interview to Action News Now as she continues to recover at Enloe Medical Center from injuries she sustained Tuesday.
"I just started screaming and I told myself I need to stay awake, I need to stay awake...It broke my heart."
Phommathep was in her car with her three sons on their way to school.
"Right before I got to the stop sign, I felt a shaking in my car and I saw in a guy in a truck pull up to me and saw him pull out his rifle," Phommathep said.
The guy she saw was not only the gunman Kevin Neal, but her neighbor. She said she initially thought he was in a rush and was trying to get past her, but then she said he pulled out the rifle and opened fire.
She was shot five times, her ten year-old son shot twice in the calf, and her seven year old with a gun-shot wound to his foot, and the two-year-old had scratches from glass fragments.
"I knew if he shot any more, I couldn't have gone on," she said.
She immediately screamed to her ten-year old son to go to the back and help his brothers.
"I decided to keep on driving to the hospital, but my body was going numb and I couldn't hear anything but when I heard my kids cry I woke myself up again," she said.
Those cries helped her stay conscious, as she drove she kept flagging people down, asking for help. One woman told her she was late to work so she couldn't help and kept driving.
She then pleaded to another man.
"I said I'm shot, can you help me, my body's going numb I can't drive anymore and he said yes he'll make a U-turn but he just sped off and it just broke my heart," she said.
For 40 minutes after the moment she was shot, she desperately tried to get anyone to help her.
Luckily as police were responding to shots fired at the elementary school, she was able to flag down one of the sheriff's office vehicles driven by assistant sheriff Phil Johnston.
"It took me a step out of my vehicle four times to four different individuals to get help, and I used all the strength that I had and when I finally stopped the sheriff I didn't have much strength to get out. I opened my door and told him to just check on my kids because no one was willing to help,” she said.
When ambulances arrived to the scene, she told her kids she loved them before they were separated.
Tiffany's husband Jonny said he knew something bad happened to his family when he never received a text from her letting him know the kids have been dropped off at school.
"Me being the rock of the family, the guy who's supposed to take care of the family, I felt hopeless," he said.
But today as his wife continues to recover, Phommathep said he will "be here, take care of my wife, feed her through a straw...It teaches me something...The vows that we took before we got married made those words a lot more powerful. You know in sickness and in health, you're gonna be there for your wife right.'
"I'm just relieved that I'm still here to be with my kids and be here to see them grow up but I'm also hurt that this had to happen to me," she said.
Jonny and Tiffany told Action News Now they're shocked about what happened, but they're not angry and they're not going to waste that kind of energy.
Instead they're going to focus on healing and learning from this experience.
If you’d like to donate to the family’s GoFundMe page, you can do so here: https://www.gofundme.com/4po8vq8
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