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San Bernardino Shooting Victim Tells Her Story

Michelle debated going into work the day her co-worker and his wife would end up shooting her point blank in one of the deadliest U.S. terror attacks since 9/11. Read Transcript


NARRATOR: Shortly before 11:00 AM the calls came in.

Two shooters had opened fire at the Inland Regional Center

in San Bernardino, California.

A few hours earlier, and a few miles north, Michelle Saltis

debated calling in sick to work.

MICHELLE: You know when you wake up sometimes in the morning?

Or you know something's wrong or off or something?

That's just kind of how I felt that day.

I wasn't feeling the best, but I was like oh, you know what?

I haven't really taken any days off so I asked my husband

and he's like, well, do whatever you want.

I was like you know what?

It's going to be a fun day.

So I actually end up getting dressed that day,

and giving my husband a kiss and said how do I look?

And he's like, you look fine.

You look pretty, and I'm like OK.

NARRATOR: For the last year Michelle

had been working as an environmental health

specialist for the county, and when she first

started one of her trainers was a young man named Syed Farook.

He was a type of person that was more kept to himself.

He didn't really get too involved with anybody.

He just seemed distant.

I just remembered the day I went on a ride

along with him, which is when I first started with the county,

he was just very inquisitive about my military side

with my husband.

He had told me he was expecting a baby.

And I was like, oh congratulations,

but he was more like disappointed at the fact.

I just remember him telling me, well, it wasn't in our plans.

NARRATOR: The authorities are still trying to piece together

those plans, but here's what they know--

on the morning of December 2nd that baby was dropped off

at her grandmother's.

Then at about 8:48 AM Syed arrived at work,

sat down a few feet from Michelle.

The whole time he was just kind of quiet.

The only thing I remember is-- when he was sitting there I

just remember him looking at a cell phone.

He picked it up and he did something to it,

and then the next thing I knew I just remember seeing him

stand up and just walk away.

NARRATOR: But Michelle didn't know

that Syed left behind a couple bags of explosives.

20 minutes after he left he returned with his wife,

both dressed in tactical gear and armed to the teeth.

All of a sudden I hear gunfire.

I look behind me, and I noticed that the door had a crack,

like it was propped open.

And I just see a person standing there,

and I saw him lifting the rifle up

and start spraying the room from right to left.

I just got down on the floor real quick,

tried to get out of the way, and just

lay there like as if I was dead already--

like if he already shot me.

I just remember the fire went on for-- it

seemed like forever long to me.

The next thing I know is the firing stopped.

NARRATOR: Syed and his wife were carrying AR-15 rifles

with bullets designed for maximum damage.

They fired off 75 rounds before fleeing.

But before they left they paid one more visit to Michelle.

That's when one of them came by and they kicked me in my leg--

my right leg.

And then I just hear a boom.

Boom boom boom.

And I just knew.

I was like, OK, I'm hit.

I didn't know if I was going to make it or not.

I just laid there, and I just-- the first thing I did is I

turned to God.

I start praying.

I told him-- I said, God, I'm ready.

I'm ready to go home with you, and, you know,

I'm OK with that.

I was like, but if it's not my time

I just ask that you protect me-- that you shield me,

that you keep me safe, and keep everybody in here that it's not

their time-- keep them safe.

Protect them.

I just kept talking to him, and praying that over and over.

I was breathing very heavily at first, and I just knew.

I said, God, please help me stay calm.

I need to stay calm.

OFFICER 1: Lincoln 3, we're being

advised that one suspect fled in a black SUV,

westbound from the location.

We do not know if we still have an active shooter.

We supposedly have two down inside.

We'll be making entry.

NARRATOR: Within minutes hundreds of officers

were on the scene, but Syed and his wife were already gone.

It's believed at this point they tried, and failed,

to detonate the pipe bombs they left behind.

Back at the center, Michelle Saltis tried to move.

I have no idea how many people were killed right now.

It was literally like as if I was in a movie.

The next thing I know the cops show up.

I didn't know who they were at first.

I was scared still, because I just

saw them with a bunch of guns, and I was like, oh great.

More people in here to shoot us.

OFFICER 1: We have several down in the conference room.

Several down.

Stage several medical aids.

I just remember hearing them say, if you're injured or hurt

and you can walk, let's go.

If not, just stay there.

We're going to bring help.

And I said to myself, I'm injured.

I know it's going to be hard to walk.

I need to get out of here.

And I grabbed my purse and I ran out.

NARRATOR: 15 minutes after the attack, Syed's wife

pledged her allegiance to ISIS on social media.

Meanwhile, emergency crews from around the area

set up a triage unit for the victims.

He looked at me.

He was like, you know, sweetheart,

you need to get down.

You're hit.

And he said it kind of, like, very nervous, and I looked up.

I said calm down.

I said, once I'm down that it.

I won't be able to get up, because I was already

losing feeling in my legs and everything.

NARRATOR: Michelle was rushed to the St. Bernardine

medical center.

Dr. Ruben Osorio was on duty.

When she arrived she had a lot of gunshot wounds.

8 to 10, maybe a few more, in her flank.

So after I examined her, we determined

that she had intra-abdominal injuries,

and that she needed emergency surgery.

I went to shake his hand, and Dr. Osorio kind of

put my hand to the side.

He leaned up and kissed me on my forehead, and he looked at me

and he says, I got this.

You're going to be OK.

I looked at him, and I just remember I started to cry,

and I said, OK, thank you.

I knew I was going to be OK.

I know I'm in good hands.

I know that God is with me, and that God sent them

all for me for a reason.

NARRATOR: Sometime around 3:00 PM,

a tip led police to Syed's house.

He and his wife fled in a rented SUV

ready to make their last stand.

OFFICER 1: They are shooting at us

from the SUV eastbound on Richardson.

Responding units, watch your crossfire.

OFFICER 2: Right now we have one down outside the car.

One down inside the car.

NARRATOR: Around that same time Michelle woke up from surgery,

and learned the identity of her attackers.

Honestly, when I first found out I got really mad.

I'm like, why did he have to do this?

But then I have to stop, and I pray and I say, you know what?

I have to forgive him, because that's what God would do.

If I were to forgive him, even though I

don't like what he did and I don't agree with any of it,

it's going to help me move on with everything in my life.

It's going to help me heal.

If I don't it's just going to only make things worse.

It's going to make me keep that anger and that hatred,

and that's not what I want.

NARRATOR: 14 people died during the San Bernardino shooting.

Michelle Saltis was shot point blank.

By all accounts she should have been number 15.

The amazing thing is God's grace,

because when I was in the room, when I was laying there

on the floor-- when I said that prayer,

I literally felt this shield over my body.

When he, or she, shot me, less than 3 feet away, they missed.

And I tell everybody-- I'm like it's

because I have God's shield over my body, protecting me.

He was answering my prayers.

He told me, in a sense, it's not my time.

He has something better planned for me.

NARRATOR: Today Michelle is still under doctor's care.

She hopes to return to her job soon.

Every now and then she has flashbacks,

and sleepless nights.

Still, Michelle Saltis is alive and stronger than ever.

Before the whole incident I actually

start questioning my faith.

I started feeling like it's not enough,

but when this happened without question I turned to God.

It made me realize that my faith wasn't weak.

It's even become more stronger since this whole thing.

He was with me that morning when I was starting

to decide not to go to work.

And then, when the whole thing started happening,

he was by my side.

And I turned to him right away, and I knew

God was with me the whole time.

His grace is why I'm still here.

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