Sign in to comment!

OTR Interviews

TV shooting survivor: All I could think was 'play dead'

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," September 15, 2015. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

 

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Right now and only on ON THE RECORD, you will hear from Vicki Gardner. Vicki was a sole survivor when a gunman opened fire on live television. That gunman murdering TV reporter Alison Parker and a photographer Adam Ward.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

VICKI GARDNER, SOLE SURVIVOR OF ON-AIR SHOOTING ATTACK ON TV NEWS CREW: It was just rapid fire. I just don't know.

VAN SUSTEREN: A reporter and her cameraman were murdered on live TV.

TED WILLIAMS, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: These reporters were only doing their job. And they didn't even and could not even see it coming.

GARDNER: Movement and then gunfire, lots and lots of gunfire.

VAN SUSTEREN: It all happened live on TV.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He had a lot of anger. A lot of mental issues.

GARDNER: My heart just goes out to Alison and Adam. And they're so young. You know, why save me and take them?

VAN SUSTEREN: The whole nation is mourning tonight.

GARDNER: Obviously, there is a purpose. And by golly, I will fulfill it.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VAN SUSTEREN: Gardner watched that horrifying scene as both the WDBJ reporter and photographer were murdered right next to her. But she was not the only one who watched the murder. It was broadcast live on television. Vicki remembers everything and is telling her story for the first time.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GARDNER: We were lined up and we were talking and what are we going to do and, you know, just our usual fun conversation. And Adam is all set up in front of me and Alison was alongside of me and we saw a motion. And I don't want to go so much into this because it's already been said over and over and over again. But we did see a motion that seemed a little unusual. We couldn't quite place it.

Was it somebody looking for something? Was it somebody that maybe was here from maintenance that wanted to ask a question and my thought was is he going to ask a question while we're talking on air?

VAN SUSTEREN: You noticed him while you were live? That was the first time you noticed him?

GARDNER: Um-huh. That was it.

VAN SUSTEREN: And just where was he when you first noticed him? Was he straight ahead from you or --

GARDNER: I was -- again, he was just kind of coming down the walkway, next to the rail.

And I just saw movement. You know, you were paying attention to the camera. And you have the peripheral and that's what I saw, sort of boxy. I can't describe it. Obviously, he was in full armor so that may explain boxy.

VAN SUSTEREN: So what did you see next then?

GARDNER: He, basically, came up behind. We were talking. And, you know, again, it was a tiny bit of a distraction. Probably more than I would even recognize, but then it was just very, very fast. And I saw movement and then gunfire, lots and lots of gunfire.

And, you know, from that point, it was very chaotic. I realized that Adam was down in front of me. And Alison was not to the side of me any longer. And so, I'm really, and I won't say face-to-face because I can't say that I saw, was looking at him. I was not trying to make eye contact. And so I just -- the only thing I could think of is play dead. And so as the fire was happening, he doesn't know who he is hitting or who is he not hitting and I don't think.

And I just fell to the ground as though I had been hit and went into fetal position because I felt as though he was going to shoot me in the head. And so I needed to hide that so if he thought he already had, but he did come back up and shot me in the back. And which I thought went through my spine and thankfully, again, I have so many angels around me or something, that it didn't happen that way.

But so -- and then it was very quiet. It was just very quiet. I don't know whether he tried to fire off a couple more rounds. I was just concentrating on being so still that he wouldn't shoot me again. And then it was quiet.

And it was early in the morning and there really wasn't anyone around, not understanding quite this had happened live. It didn't register for me. I didn't know how badly I was bleeding, but I was on a deck.

And so, you know, obviously blood would go down rather than pool on a deck. I just -- there's a lot of unknowns. It seemed like a very, very long time, which it wasn't, of laying there and looking over and trying to assess the situation. And then, you know, I heard the police come in and two people came with their guns, still not knowing where the shooter was, not -- trying to secure the area, trying to assess our situation of the three people laying there and realizing that I was alive.

They said, "Can you get up?" And didn't know I could or couldn't, but we got up and they tried to, while securing, while holding their guns, while looking, while the two men doing all of this and trying to help me to safety and went into a truck and then it was -- so that I would be somewhat secure while they were risking their lives out there. And then the emergency vehicle came and all was well.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, ON THE RECORD HOST: Did the -- did the killer say anything or he just came up silently?

V. GARDNER: Very silent, very silent. Very -- that's all. That's all. It was just -- you know, a -- an anticipated and you can review it and probably talk it over 18 times, and each time it will be the thought that goes through, you know, did I read this well? I felt -- thankfully, I felt like I read it well enough that I dropped because had I continued to stand there I would not be here talking to you.

VAN SUSTEREN: You don't get much time to think about that stuff.

V. GARDNER: No, you really don't. And, again, you know, a lot of thoughts, my heart just goes out to Alison and Adam and they're so young. They -- you know, why save me and take them? I just -- but obviously there is a purpose, and by golly, I will fulfill it.

VAN SUSTEREN: So, Adam was shot first or second?

V. GARDNER: I believe first. It was, again, when you are looking at -- it was just rapid fire, all in this direction. It wasn't down. It wasn't -- it was just right face wise. How they missed me, I you just don't know.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, if you drop down, he's at -- he does face level.

(CROSSTALK)

V. GARDNER: I think everybody was gone when I dropped.

VAN SUSTEREN: And then -- but then he shot you.

V. GARDNER: He came back -- I believe he came back by me and shot me.

VAN SUSTEREN: That's sort of an afterthought?

V. GARDNER: Sort of -- well, just in case, you know.

VAN SUSTEREN: And said nothing?

V. GARDNER: Nothing.

VAN SUSTEREN: Never a word? Not a scream?

V. GARDNER: No. It was, again, tragic. There's -- we have a long way to go on understanding what would possess somebody to have that much anger.

VAN SUSTEREN: Any idea or concept of how long you were lying there next to Adam and Alison before anyone else showed up?

V. GARDNER: That is the million-dollar question. I think it was five minutes. I don't know because the television station called in to 911 and they immediately picked that up. They are just right up the street so they were there quickly. It seemed forever but it probably wasn't.

VAN SUSTEREN: But, I mean, even -- I mean five minutes is forever in a situation like that. Even a minute.

(CROSSTALK)

V. GARDNER: It is a forever when you don't know how badly you are bleeding and you don't know the situation and the people next to you are they -- is there something that can be done for them?

VAN SUSTEREN: And you don't know if he is coming back?

V. GARDNER: And you don't know if he is he coming back and you don't know if he is around the corner and he just -- it's terror. That's all.

VAN SUSTEREN: OK. Have you have seen that video? I mean, you have seen the video?

V. GARDNER: Um-huh. Um-huh.

VAN SUSTEREN: Why? Just curious?

V. GARDNER: So that when we have our interview I would be able to piece together in my mind, so that I can put my mind at peace that I'm not conjuring up something that wasn't. Might just as well, you know, you can't take this and bury it. You have got to -- it will be a long path.

VAN SUSTEREN: See, I watched that video -- and I have to confess I have watched it a couple times and to me it's the most horrible...

V. GARNER: It is.

VAN SUSTEREN: It's like, you know, vide taping a double homicide in a shooting.

V. GARDNER: That's exactly right. Yes. Yes. And the helplessness of it.

VAN SUSTEREN: What went through your mind as you watched it?

V. GARDNER: I just watched it.

VAN SUSTEREN: Just watched it?

V. GARDNER: I just watched it. I took it in.

VAN SUSTEREN: Did it feel real?

V. GARDNER: No.

VAN SUSTEREN: Felt like you were watching somebody else?

V. GARDNER: No. It just felt like, you know, sometimes you can just put a blank screen in front of things that you can put a vale over something and put a veil over it, and maybe to watch it, and probably, you know, over the course of time, over the course of healing, who knows what, you know, your mind is going to do. Minds are just, you know, able to take you in any direction that you -- so let's just get the facts. Let's do it right. Let's move from there.

VAN SUSTEREN: Is it a good thing that he killed himself, the killer, so that there is no trial and continuing sort of drama on this? Is that a good thing?

V. GARDNER: I don't know. I -- he did what he did. It certainly does take an awful lot of the drama out of it, doesn't it? It's over, that part of it. There is a lot of things to piece together. If it was here it would be a completely different scenario, but I can't paint that picture. I don't know what that picture would be. I don't think it would be any more pleasant.

VAN SUSTEREN: When the whole thing was sort of going down, was it fear grip you this whole thing or did it just happen too fast, the shooting? I mean what.

V. GARDNER: It happened fast. I was very, very surprised of one thing. I will tell what you it was because it still surprises me. Is that I was laying down. I realized it was quiet and everybody was down and I didn't know where he was. I felt as though the next shot -- I knew the next shot he was just going to shoot me in the head because that was what he was doing and it didn't fire, whatever. He shot me in the back. And I was waiting for him to shoot me in the head. When he shot me in the back, I said I'm going to be paralyzed, darn. And then I waited and then I said -- and it goes real quick and say "Oh, your mind -- your world goes in front of you -- in front of you." And it did real fast. And I said, "I'm ready. I'm ready." So I was really much at ease had it happened. I felt -- I didn't want it. No, no, no. But I wasn't in a -- like an, "Oh, my gosh." it just went through and I said, "I have had a good life." That was that. And then didn't. And so, I'm happy -- happy to be here.

(END VIDEO CLIP)