US: Fifth Third shooting survivor dedicates herself to fighting gun violence - PressFrom - US

USFifth Third shooting survivor dedicates herself to fighting gun violence

05:51  12 june  2019
05:51  12 june  2019 Source:

Survivor who crossed path with gunman thought it was a drill

Survivor who crossed path with gunman thought it was a drill A man who survived a shooting at a Virginia Beach government building says he initially thought it was a drill for city employees _ in part because he crossed paths with the gunman three times without getting shot. Ned Carlstrom told The Associated Press on Sunday that he locked eyes with the shooter, DeWayne Craddock, twice but didn't exchange any words. He can only guess why Craddock killed 12 people but spared him, never even pointing a gun at him. He said that before the shooting, he often would have lighthearted conversations with the soft-spoken Craddock, a civil engineer, as they walked into the office from the parking lot.

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Fifth Third shooting survivor dedicates herself to fighting gun violence© Provided by Hearst Television, Inc. Local mass shooting survivor dedicates herself to fighting gun violence

Whitney Austin was on a conference call, walking in to the Fifth Third Bank in downtown Cincinnati last fall, when she was shot multiple times.

"I just thought, 'I have to get home to my family, I have to get home to my children,'" Austin remembered thinking after being shot.

It's exactly what Austin shouted to a nearby police officer who would ultimately pull her to safety. A gunman had opened firing in the lobby, killing three people.

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Goddard recounts his survival of the massacre and his backing of a campaign with fellow victims for presidential candidates to address gun violence . If there ever is a time to pose a question about gun policy in America to our candidates for President of this country, then this debate is the time to do it."

Austin, shot 12 times, survived. In the days that followed, she created Whitney Strong—a nonprofit dedicated to fighting gun violence.

"I'm going to spend every day moving forward trying to pay back that miracle that was granted to me because who gets that chance? Barely anyone. So I recognize how lucky I am," Austin told WLKY.

She has traveled to Washington, D.C., to meet with lawmakers and she's working with fellow survivors, while educating others on how to survive and save a life through tourniquet trainings.

The Whitney Strong organization has three main goals, according to Austin: suicide prevention, preventing prohibited persons from gaining access to firearms and getting extreme risk protection orders for Kentucky and Ohio.

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Emma Gonzalez, 18, survived the shooting and traveled to Chicago to speak at the press conference as part of her crusade against gun violence . In a student-led conversation held after the press conference, Gonzalez told Complex that the deaths in Parkland have opened her eyes to Chicago’s

“Those who face gun violence on a level that we have only just glimpsed from our gated communities have never had their voices heard in their entire She continued: “The platform us Parkland Students have established is to be shared with every person, black or white, gay or straight, religious or not

While she has garnered national attention, she says her biggest fans are her husband and two young children.

"They'll tell you, 'Mommy works on teaching people how to use tourniquet,' and, 'Mommy works on preventing gun violence,' so they get it and they're supportive. They think it's cool. Mommy's Whitney Strong."

Austin says she is proudest of being a mother. She recently announced she would be ending her career with Fifth Third Bank to focus more on family and her foundation.

"If I ever want to for a second forget this happened to me, all I need to do is look at my body. Those (the scars) are things that will be with me forever, that will continue to drive me to fight this," she said, adding, "I don't want this to happen to people I love. I don't want this to happen to people I don't know. It's an extremely traumatic situation and I want to help others avoid it at all costs."

A fundraiser has been planned for Sept. 6, the one-year anniversary of the shooting, at the Ali Center.

To learn more about Whitney Strong or make a donation, visit

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