BOISE, Idaho — Many shoppers were inside Boise Towne Square Monday afternoon when someone opened fire just outside the Macy's store, and continued shooting inside the store, killing two people and injuring three.
Among the people inside the store was Kathleen Simko. The Boise woman was not hurt, but she said the memory will be hard to get out of her mind.
"I was standing in line and heard very clearly, very distinctly I think 5 to 6 shots," Simko said. "Immediately, I knew they were gunshots... and people started running and panicking. I don't know why. We were looking for a place to hide."
Simko said she thinks she caught a glimpse of the attacker.
"It was a man, a tallish man with a black vest or a jacket on and then I hid in a rack of dresses," she said. "It was silent for a second and then more shots rang out, followed by breaking glass, what sounded like breaking glass and footsteps and my sense was it was a person running."
As she hid, Simko exchanged text messages with her husband.
"It seemed like I was there forever but in looking back at the texts it was probably 8 or 9 minutes," she said.
Simko said she left her hiding spot when she heard the sound of a police radio. She thought she could help.
"I left and walked around to the escalator, which is in the center of the Macy's near the jewelry and makeup, and I saw the glass was shattered out of the escalator," she said. "I started to run up the escalator and I saw a cell phone and I saw a bag and I saw blood and I looked and at the top of the stairs there was a gentleman lying down.
"The police officers were doing CPR, and I thought maybe I can take over for them while they do something else. The paramedics hadn't gotten there yet. And I got to the top of the stairs and I just froze. I couldn't find my voice to ask.
"I heard them talking, the police, and they said I don't find an exit wound, he doesn't have a pulse... and I couldn't move. I just thought I'm just going to be in the way, so I turned around and walked back down and sat at the bottom of the stairs for a while, and paramedics came and police came, and it felt chaotic."
People who had been hiding eventually came out. Simko said she felt numb.
"I was comforting other people who were crying because I didn't have any feelings or emotions at that point in time," Simko said.
The shoppers were asked to wait outside the mall, and then they gave police their statements.
"I felt like I was doing OK until they brought a body out... and I knew that it was the gentleman that I had seen at the top of the escalator and that he died... and there was nothing else anybody could do for him," Simko said. "And I felt like he had been afraid and alone and scared, and I just felt helpless. It was the most horrifying thing and you can't imagine going through it and you never in a million years think it's going to happen to you until it does, and it's so sad. It's just so sad."
Simko made a Facebook post about her emotional experience.
"We get so numb. We hear these things on the news all the time and knowing somebody who lived through it might help people work to change things or be a little bit kinder every day or show compassion, or tell people you love them," she said. "You just never know when it's your last day."
Simko said she is thinking about those who were wounded or lost their lives.
"I happened to be a the wrong place at the wrong time, but I survived and I feel blessed and I have so much to be thankful for," she said. "And you never know, we never know."
It's a memory Kathleen Simko said she can't shake, but she plans on leaning on her friends and counseling to work through it.
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