PORTLAND, Ore. – 15-year-old Kristina Shevchenko, who was shot and badly injured during the deadly shooting at the Clackamas Town Center earlier this month, said she didn’t fully realize what was going on until she saw people running and screaming in terror.
Kristina said she and her best friend were taking a shortcut through the mall on their way home from school on Tuesday, Dec. 11. She was on the second floor near Macy’s when she saw a masked man who was dressed in black and carrying a gun.
“I only saw him for an instant,” Kristina said in an interview on Saturday. “I didn’t even realize it was a real gun. I thought it was maybe a prank or maybe a paintball gun.
“I didn’t even realize to run until everybody was running. There was people screaming, so everybody was running.”
She hid behind a pillar and ran into Macy’s. Kristina said she was shot while she was running.
“I did feel a huge amount of pressure and pain,” she said. “You can’t describe what it feels like.”
A Macy’s employee who was helping people get out of the mall walked Shevchenko and her friend outside.
“We came outside, we didn’t know where to go because all the cops were so focused on the shooter and getting everybody outside the building,” Kristina said.
Police didn’t believe she was hurt until an officer saw holes in Shevchenko’s sweater.
“We tried to tell her that I was shot, but I guess because I was walking practically on my own, she didn't really believe it,” said Kristina. “The female cop put me into a police car where we were waiting for paramedics.”
Kristina was the only surviving victim of the shooting. Two people, Steve Forsyth and Cindy Yuille, were shot dead before the shooter, 22-year-old Jacob Tyler Roberts, killed himself in the mall.
Kristina’s trauma surgeon, Dr. Laszlo Kiraly, said she came to Oregon Health and Science University "seriously wounded with an assault rifle wound to the chest."
She was awake when she arrived, but her lung and liver were seriously damaged.
Kristina was released from the hospital earlier this week. She says she’s doing just about everything on her own now.
"It’s a miracle I am recovering as quick as I am from all my injuries," she said. "A lot of people were praying and keeping me and my family in their thoughts. That does have a big impact."
Kristina said she plans to return to the mall and she doesn’t blame the shooter for what happened to her.
"He might have had a hard life. I don’t know what his life was like or his reasons for doing what he did. So I can’t exactly blame him," said Kristina.
"I know that God has his eyes on us. He has angels on everyone’s shoulders," she said. “He’s especially watching out for my family."