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Shetamia Taylor was paralyzed by sound of gunfire before she could process the deadly scene that was unfolding in Dallas.
Pop. Pause. Pop. Pop.
Taylor brought four of her sons to the rally in downtown Dallas on Thursday to participate in a peaceful march in the wake of two black men who were shot dead this week by police. But as her family was turning to leave the rally, the scene erupted in immeasurable violence.
The second bullet hit the police officer standing in front of her, a hefty man with a bald head. And as his body slumped forward to the ground, the officer yelled out to Taylor and her kids.
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“He has a gun! Run!”
The family scattered in all directions. Taylor made sure to run behind the crowd to keep tabs on all her sons. But then a bullet pierced her right calf mid-stride. Taylor tackled her son Andrew, lunging her body over his while taking cover between the surrounding parked cars to protect him from the spray of shots.
Police officers came rushing to their side and jumped on top of the mother and son to form a human shield. Protected under the layer of police, Taylor saw bullets strike another officer and his body fall to the ground.
“It was hundreds of rounds. I had never heard of anything like that before,” an emotionally fraught Taylor said through tears on Sunday.
Officers on the scene rushed Taylor and her son to the hospital, where she would be whisked into surgery for a gunshot wound that struck her calf and through her shin.
Taylor’s teenage son, JaJuan, had kept running, unaware that his mother was wounded. And in the haze of bodies, he pleaded for help from the nearest person around him — 33-year-old Angie Wisner, a mental health technician and mother of three. They clung together in search of safety.
“I said, call your mom, call your mom. But she wasn’t answering her phone,” Wisner said. “At the time we didn’t know she had been shot.”
Taking shelter in a stranger’s apartment, Wisner and JaJuan frantically called every number they could think of and posted on Facebook live to get in touch with his family. Wisner stayed with the young teen, consoling him as he heard from a cousin about his mother’s injuries.
It wasn’t until Sunday afternoon, after Taylor emerged safely from surgery, that the two mothers met for the first time.
Wisner struggled to hold back tears while conveying how grateful she was to be the answer to a stranger’s prayers.
“Honestly I don’t see myself as a hero. I see myself as a mother,” Wisner said. “Any mother would have did what I’d done.”