A U.S. military veteran tapped into her training to save herself after her family gathering was attacked by strangers. The octogenarian, who survived a quadruple shooting, played dead after she was hit by several bullets from a crazed gunman.
Carrie Barnhill, an 88-year-old Colorado Springs resident, was a victim of a mass shooting last week.
On Wednesday, Aug. 24, the Air Force veteran went to visit her 82-year-old sister, Shirley “Sue” Mallory; brother-in-law Ivory Mallory; and a family friend in Milwaukee, according to KKTV, when a man opened fire on the group.
Surveillance video captures moments immediately before the shooting. The three women could be seen laughing and enjoying each other’s company, The Sun reports. Barnhill says the ladies saw him walking but didn’t think anything.
Around 9:15 p.m. at 22nd and Center streets, the suspect did the unthinkable and sprayed Mallory’s porch with gunfire, shooting all the ladies. Ivory came out to investigate the noise, calling out, “Sue, Sue. Are you all right?” Barnhill recounted.
Shortly after that, he was shot too.
Barnhill was struck in both of her feet multiple times. After getting hit, she laid still on the floor and played dead.
“Even when the bullets were going into my feet I did not move,” the older sister said. “I did not move because being retired from the Air Force, I knew that would be a sign that I was still alive.”
“Being military, I fell to the floor and just played dead,” she recalled from her hospital bed. “You know, when you’re laying there, not knowing whether you’re going to live or die, and you’re in that situation, it’s a terrifying situation.”
When asked about the night, she said all she remembers “is waiting for the next shot. Waiting, waiting, waiting for myself to be shot.”
During this time, Ivory called 911.
Barnhill said, “When the police came, they wouldn’t let me look at all, but I knew that my sister was not going to make it.”
Tragically, Barnhill was right. Mallory died at the scene.
Gregory Mallory, the son of Shirley Mallory, said to WISN 12 News, “She’s my mom, she was my best friend.”
Expected to survive is the deceased’s husband, the man she spent the last almost 60 years in matrimony with. Ivory sustained a shot in his lower extremities and spinal cord, but doctors are optimistic about his prognosis.
The 65-year-old family friend shot during the melee, is also expected to recover. She was stuck in the back of her leg.
“You know, somebody came on a porch and shot at an 88, 85, 82, and 65-year-old while they’re sitting on a porch,” Gregory marveled in disbelief. “They don’t hurt anybody, they don’t go after anybody or whatever, and my mom and dad kept to themselves.”
“I don’t know why he came over and did what he did. You shot an 88 (year-old), some senior citizens,” the son said. More unbelievable is that the shooter apparently knew the family, who lived in the home since the 1960s.
“We haven’t talked to him for years, but we grew up knowing him [as our neighbor]. Both families are close, excluding him,” Mallory said.
The attacker was known to have struggled with mental health challenges.
The vet’s injury has limited her ability to walk, but through therapy, doctors anticipate the soldier will walk again. Sources believe she will be mobile within the next 9-12 weeks.
Barnhill has decided to forgive the shooter for his actions, saying, “The only way that I can find peace is I have to forgive him and go on with my life.”
“God is not finished with me yet. So, I just thank the Lord for saving my life,” she said.
Next door to the crime scene, a fire was started. Authorities believe the attacker was responsible for the torching of the house, a residence that once belonged to his deceased mother.
As the Milwaukee Police Department tried to figure out the motive of the shooting, they are also investigating the possible arson one house away.
MPD Capt. Brad Schlei said, “Due to the possibility of the armed suspect inside the residence, the Milwaukee Fire Department and the Milwaukee Police Department had many challenges on battling the blaze.”
The Mallorys’ son said his aunt told him what happened.
“I tried to call the house and I got my auntie, and my auntie is hysterical on the phone, saying, ‘Yeah, I’ve been shot, Greg,'” he remembered her saying. “‘I’ve been shot. Your dad has been shot. I don’t know where your mom is at.’”
Gregory is now resolved to move back to Milwaukee to keep a close eye on his dad. The suspect has not been captured as of this writing.