A mother and her children hide from gunmen at Westgate Shopping Centre in Nairobi
© Siegfried Modola / Reuters / REUTERS

Dateline   |  November 22, 2013

'Nowhere to Hide' part 2

Two mothers find themselves under attack and under pressure to keep their young children quiet in order to keep them alive.

Share This:

This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> reporter: armed men stormed into the westgate mall in nairobi, kenya, firing round after fatal round. katherine walton was hunkered down with a stranger and three young daughters and desperately worried about her sons who were somewhere out there. she had to focus on keeping her daughters quiet so they wouldn't attract attention.

>> are you hiding from gunmen?

>> we are, we were laying down on the ground tryi to hide from them so they couldn't seep us. porsche kept her fingers in her ears. gigi laid therand said, mom, i want my blanket and my mouse and my flashlight. she sleeps with those three things every night. she said she wanted her brothers. and i told her that we would see them later.

>> katherine could only hope that was true. half a world away , a phone rang in a hotel in north carolina . katherine 's husband phillip a tech entrepreneur had gone back to the u.s. for business meetings, leaving his wife alone in nairobi with their five kids.

>> i get woken up about 6:00 a.m . by a phone call , from, from paul weaver , our dear family friend. so i knew it was not, not good.

>> reporter: dyou remember what he said?

>> there is an attack going on at westgate. and your wife and sons are in there and they're separated.

>> that is a call you don't want to have to make.

>> reporter: paul weaver the walton family friend had beeat home recovering from surgery when he got an urgent text from katherine .

>> reporter: what time did the first message come in?

>> the first one at 12:52 . what did she say?

>> pray. shooting in westgate. hiding.

>> that its a message.

>> just blew me away. i actually wrote her back. really?

>> she said, i don't know where the boys are. yes. she said find blez.

>> paul texted blez. he didn't ans ter.

>> i started looking on the internet. somebody put out a statement on facebook. don't call anybody when the phone rings people areetting shot when it rings. paul didn't call. stayed in touch through text messages her live line to outside world .

>> i sent a text, get me out of here. not that i thought he could. i was desperate.

>> when she sent that, my heart sunk.

>> skakatherine didn't text her husband phillip because he was too far away to do anything and knew she would panic him. back in north carolina all phillip could do was weight. 00 a.m . news of the attack hadn't hit the u.s. yet.

>> reporter: i am trying to imagine getting the phone call and being so far away ?

>> i think helplessness is a pretty accurate word. you know there is nothing you can do. i was so worried that the girls would be screaming, like, uncontrollably panicking. and drawing attention.

>> reporter: exactly what katherine was trying to prevent the girls from doing. i just kept telling em to stay little, to stay very quiet. and the kenyan lady that was with porsche just kept -- kept patting her and soothing her. and gigi was curled up in a little ball. her breathing was so quiet and so shallow. i just kept rubbing her back. and touching her. and -- because, i, i was like, maybe she is hurt. i don't realize it.

>> reporter: cramped in her hiding spot she was desperate to reach her boys. after trying and trying, she finally got through again.

>> i was able to send a text and said are you oy? , he told me that they were owe cape. and that they were safe.

>> reporter: you thought your boys had gotten snout.

>> i did. when he told me they were safe. i thought they had gotten out.

>> reporter: but they hadn't. the walton boys were hiding in the back of the store. cell phone video captured the battlefield, the store became. the aisles were a bullet riddled maze. shoppers were stunned. some drawing fire. and now, there were gunmen headed towards katherine 's sons. and the other mother trapped in the nightmare, faith, she had her two young children with her and was worried about controlling her toddler's son. they heard gunfire all around them. i feel bad right now, i was lying on him. trying to shield him at one point. i said, oh, my goodness. lying on this floor. then i am pressing down on his back. he must be so uncomfortable. at that point that is when i put my fingers in his mouth. you know, hoping to give him something to suck on. they remained like that frozen in place, first for minutes. then for an hour. she was terrified her son would start crying and give them away. i can see he is face, crsing into a cry. and i know, i my goodness, he is going to cry. this is it.