tv Dateline MSNBC January 6, 2020 12:00am-1:00am PST
children of dave and debbie hawk. >> we do the best we can. >> that's all for this edition of "dateline." thanks for watching. i'm craig melvin. >> i'm natalie morales. >> and this is "dateline." >> it was just chaos. >> a day at the mall descends into mayhem. armed men turned shoppers into prey. >> lots of screaming. lots of gunfire. they had a demeanor like they they had a demeanor like they owned the place. >> you have to be aware of your surroundings all the time, because you just never know. p pangiced moms protep quir quiet liquiet lp . p pangiced moms protep
>> yeah, and just run. >> from out of the blue a hero. >> she starts running. >> could he rescue the smallest >> when she got up and ran, did thought, oh, my god. >> here's kate snow with hostage. >> hello and welcome to "dateline." newtown, orlando, las vegas. it seems like mass shootings have become all too frequent in the u.s. and overseas at a mall in nairobi, kenya, masked assailants carried out an even debtlier attack. a normal afternoon of shopping when gunmen turned it into a scene of bloodshed and bedlam but what emergeed were remarkable stories of courage and survival. >> here's kate snow. >> it's the modern day town square, a gathering place that fulfills our every need, shopping, eating, socializing.
a trip to the mall is an escape on weekends and not just in america. in fire roby, kenya, the upscale and modern westgate mall was the place to unwind at the end of the workweek. it was the last place you would expect something like this. gunshots, explosions, armed men taking over every floor, methodically shooting anyone in their way. that was the unbelievably brutal scene that played out in front of a shocked world september 21st, 2013. just after the smoke cleared, "dateline" traveled to nairobi. we'll take you inside the mall attack with harrowing scenes of how it unfolded and details from those who lived through it. you will hear from two mothers
caught in the cross fire. >> it was pretty terrifying. it really was. it was very, very, very terrifying. >> reporter: two mothers caught on camera. >> what's going to happen? i'm going to die. the kids are going to die. >> reporter: in a matter of these moms, an american and a kenyan, would go from strolling through the mall to being forced to make life and death decisions to save themselves and their children. for catherine walton it began like any other saturday with her husband phillip away on business she took her five kids to the westgate mall. it was a place where all of them could be entertained, the teens and the toddlers. her kids liked the chicken place, the candy store. >> it was an opportunity to walk around, kill a couple hours, and i knew that we'd go home and have naps and everybody would be happy. >> reporter: the waltons chose
to move to kenya two years earlier from texas. for katherine and philip it was like going home. they were both children of missionaries and grew up in countries in west africa. they met in boarding school in africa, married in the states and started raising their family. at the time of the attack, blaze was 14 years old, ian 10, porsche 4, gigi 2 and the baby petra just 13 months old was born in kenya. their morning at the mall unfolds just as family's might. they had lunch together in the third floor food court. then the boys decided to race down to the first floor to a big department store, sort of like a super walmart. mom and the three young girls were still finishing up lunch so they lagged behind. as they were walking through the mall to catch up with the boys, with the baby in a sling and the two toddlers holding mom's hand, it happened, an explosion.
>> the first thing that tells you something is wrong is a huge bang. >> yeah. yeah. >> coming from where? >> it was the main entrance, so it was off to my right and behind me. i remember turning around and looking at it and just seeing people screaming and running. >> reporter: in those first seconds, catherine was unsure what was happening. she thought it sounded like broken glass or something falling. but she immediately grasped that she and her girls were in danger. the chaos confused another mother not far from catherine on the main particular. faith was in the mall with her two children, 9-year-old daughter and a 21-month-old son. the researcher was shopping for an anniversary present for her husband. she was in a flower shop when she first heard the noise. >> it was so loud that i actually thought it was an earthquake and the building was collapsing. so that's the point when i just
told my kids to lie down. of course, i'm scanning the area wondering where we're going to go. >> reporter: scenes captured on security cameras in the mall show how quickly the attacks began. you can see machine gun bullets flashing down the main concourse as shoppers scramble and dive to the floor. >> and then i saw trace arounds starting to hit the shops that were straight ahead. >> reporter: catherine's first thought, protect her kids. >> it was instinct to grab the girls and run. but we must not have gone too far and a kenyan woman came and scooped up porsche and we both ran right behind this display table, display cabinet. >> reporter: catherine, her g l girls and the kenyan woman took place the only place they could. here they are crouching under a flimsy display table. >> petra was crying because i
was laying on her and it was loud, very loud. very chaotic. >> what were you hearing? >> everybody was scrambling and the shooting was like coming from all directions. >> reporter: catherine knew her boys had been headed toward that department store. amid all the noise and commotion she managed to call them and yell out a quick morning. >> i said don't come out. they're shooting. go, run, hide. do not come out. >> reporter: catherine knew the situation was dangerous, extremely dangerous, but at least she had some cover. faith and her kids were also trapped on the ground floor, but cowering out in the open, exposed to the gunmen stalking new victims. >> i'm telling the kids to lie down. now there is continuous loud sounds and that's when i knew there was shooting. and then i thought, wrong choice of hiding place. i remember even my daughter at one point asked me, momma, was this the best place we could
hide? >> reporter: the assault continued. you are not hearing just one gun. >> no, it was all over. it sounded like it was all over. of course in the building it was just echoing and reverberating. >> you could look up and see other floors? >> where i was laying, i could see across and up the different levels. it was just chaos. >> what is the smell like? >> the whole mall was cloudy and just smoke everywhere. gunpowder, burning smell. >> did any of them come anywhere near you? >> i saw two of them that walked from the main entrance in front of the line of stores directly in front of us. >> hold on. what did you see? i mean you saw their feet go by? >> no. i saw them. i saw two whole men. you know, they were 50 yards, 30 yards away, i don't know. >> what did they look like? >> they had tan and gray clothing and they were carrying very, very large weapons, very large guns.
>> reporter: hearing the gunfire and screams echoing through the mall, both catherine and faith could tell the gunmen were spreading out, killing people as they went along. two mothers trapped with young children worried they'd be next and a growing fear seized catherine. her boys were no longer answering their phones. where were they? coming up -- the terrifying uncertainty for those inside the mall and loved ones outside. >> i got a phone call, your wife and sons are in there and they're separated. >> soon a friend of catherine's who's been texting with her would go from worried to frantic. >> when she sent that, my heart just sunk. >> when "dateline" continues. mo. pronamel repair can actively help repair weakened enamel. it takes minerals and it drives it deep into the tooth's surface. pronamel repair takes it
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armed men stormed into the westgate mall in kenya firing round after fatale round. catherine walton was hunkered down near where the shoot had gone started crouched in a small kiosk with a stranger and her three young daughters. she was desperately worried about her sons who were somewhere out there, but she had to focus on keeping her daughters quiet so they wouldn't attract attention. >> are you hiding from these gunmen? >> yeah. we were laying down on the
ground trying to hide from them so they couldn't see us. porsche kept her fingers in her ears. gigi laid there and said, mom, i want my blanket and my mouse and my flashlight. she sleeps with those three things every night. she said she wanted her brothers. and i told her that we'd see them later. >> reporter: catherine could only hope that was true. half a world away, a phone rang in a hotel in north carolina. catherine's husband, phillip, a tech entrepreneur had gone back to the u.s. before for business meetings leaving his wife alone in nairobi with their five kids. >> i got woken up at about 6:00 a.m. with a phone call from our dear family friend, so i knew it was not good. >> do you remember what he said? >> there is an attack going on at westgate and your wife and sons are in there and they're separated. >> that's a call you don't want to have to make. >> reporter: paul weaver, the
walton family friend had been at home recovering from surgery when he got an urgent text from catherine. >> what time did the first message come in? >> the first one came in at 12:52. >> and what did she say? >> she said, pray, shooting in westgate. hiding. >> that's a message. >> it just blew me away. so i actually wrote her back, really? and she said, yes, i don't know where the boys are. and she said, find blez. >> reporter: he texted the oldest son blez. i started looking on the internet. somebody put out a statement on facebook saying don't call anybody because when the phone rings, people are getting shot when their phone rings. paul didn't call but stayed in touch with catherine through text messages. >> i sent a text get me out of here not like i thought he could but i was desperate. >> when she sent that one, my heart sunk. >> reporter: catherine didn't text her husband philip because she knew he was too far away and knew she would only panic im.
back in north carolina, all phillip could do was wait.h im. back in north carolina, all phillip could do was wait. h im. back in north carolina, all phillip could do was waiim. back in north carolina, all phillip could do was wait. it was 6:00 a.m. and news of the attack hadn't hit the u.s. yet. >> i'm trying to imagine the feeling of getting that phone call and being so far away. >> i think helplessness is a pretty accurate word. you know there is nothing that you can do. i was so worried the girls would just be screaming like uncontrollably panicking and drawing attention. >> reporter: exactly what catherine was trying to prevent the girls from doing. >> i just kept telling them to stay little, to stay very quiet and the kenyan lady that was with porsche just kept patting her and soothing her and gigi just was curled up in a little ball. her breathing was so quiet and so shallow, i kept rubbing her back and touching her because i was like maybe she's hurt and i don't realize it. >> reporter: cramped in her hiding spot, he was desperate to
reach her boys. after trying and trying, she finally got through again. >> i was able to send a text and just said are you okay and ian told me they were okay and that they were safe. >> you thought your boys had gotten out. >> i did. when he told me they were safe, i thought they had gotten out. >> reporter: but they hasn't. the walton boys were hiding in the back of the store. this cell phone video captured the battlefield the store became. the aisles were a bullet riddled maze. shoppers were stunned. some drawing fire. and now there were gunmen headed towards catherine's sons. faith was the other mother trapped in this nightmare. she had her two young children with her and was worried about controlling her toddler son. they heard gunfire all around them. >> i feel bad right now because i was laying on him trying to
shield him and i said, oh my goodness lying on this floor and i'm pressing down on his back, he must be so uncomfortable. at that point that is when i put my fingers in his mouth hoping to give him something to suck on. >> reporter: they remained like this, frozen in place for minutes, and then for an hour. she was terrified her son would start crying and give them away. >> i can see his face creaseing into a cry and i know, my goodness, he is going to cry. this is it. coming up, faith makes a fateful choice. >> i thought now our cover has been blown. >> while our other mom becomes terrified that she and her girls are moments away from being discovered. >> i knew that if those men came around behind us that they could see us. >> when "dateline" continues. s! honey? yeah? i respect that. but that cough looks pretty bad...
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catherine was still in her makeshift hiding spot on the main floor of the mall. an hour into the attack she was still trying to keep her three restless daughtered contained under that flimsy table, their only protection from the roaming gunmen. it was a job that got harder as the mall got quieter. >> there was a lull. and petra picked up the phone
and was playing with it and then the shooting started again. one of them threw the phone and it got underneath our bodies and i couldn't reach it. >> you couldn't text anybody. >> i couldn't text anybody, couldn't get ahold of anybody. >> for a couple of hours there i was texting her and then no more texting from them. other people started calling me and saying this is really bad. we've seen pictures of people being killed. >> and she's not responding to you now. >> no. >> reporter: just down the corridor, another mother struggled to keep her children quiet. >> i'm here thinking about our survival and also thinking will this stop and run to an area where we can be safe. >> reporter: but there was nowhere else for faith and her children to go. she told her children being quiet wasn't enough. she made an incredible decision. they would all play dead. her nine-year-old daughter could understand how important it was to stay still. amazingly her son too seemed to sense it as well. he didn't move except for an
occasional blink. men with machine guns scoured every inch of the mall. >> we were right next to or corridor where we could hear them passing from time to time. but there was no way to change my position. >> reporter: the minutes dragged into hours, knowing her son might stir at any minute, faith was relieved when he dozed off for a bit. >> he was lying there on the ground snoring away. i didn't know if he was alive. one eye was shut, the other one was open and to sleep. >> reporter: hot, cramped with numb limbs, faith urged her kids to fight the need to move. >> my daughter, whenever i felt like she was, you know, twitching or changing her position because my hand was on her arm, i would just squeeze a little bit and that she totally understood that to mean stay still. >> reporter: but then the 2-year-old woke up. faith wondered how much longer he could hold on. she took a chance and played a
game. she pretended glass and bullets were insects. >> the insect was coming. so fascinated. he really likes insects. >> reporter: the gunmen continued to brazenly troll the mall floors looking for victims. catherine was worried they would see her and the girls. after all, she was seeing the gunmen. >> when they walked by you, were they shooting? >> no. they were walking very slow. they almost had a demeanor like they owned the place. like they knew they were in control. did they see you? >> they looked my direction. i knew if those men came around behind us, that they could see us. >> reporter: those men had already killed dozens of shoppers. in this video captured by a security camera, a wounded person is prodded by a terrorist. other parts too graphic to broadcast show the gunmen callously shooting people throughout the mall, even the injured. as the siege dragged on, the
outside world was beginning to get some idea of how terrible it was. >> good evening. loud explosions were heard tonight in the kenyan capital of nairobi. >> those still trapped inside the mall couldn't know they were part of a terrorist attack. faith and her two kids remained absolutely still. it was their only chance for survival. but her mind raced. >> i'm thinking about my husband, where is he? how will he get to know about this incident. i'm wondering will any of my children get shot? will i get shot and my children have no mother? >> reporter: faith was determined to protect her chu h church -- children at any cost. >> i remember covering the children, my son's head and my daughter's head and i said any bullet would have to pass through me first before it gets to these children. >> faith and her children had been flat on the floor for a full 3 1/2 hours when suddenly she heard something.
>> we had heard voices from above us on higher floors asking us to get up. mother, mother with the children, you mother down there with the children. i knew they were now addressing me. but immediately, we got up on our knees and trying to get up to go and the shooting started again. >> reporter: she thought by moving she would draw attention to herself. >> we were scared because we thought now our cover has been blown because now they know we are really not dead. >> reporter: faith didn't trust anyone now, so when a man approached, she was sure it wasn't good. >> and that's when i felt somebody touching me, i knew they had come for us because now they know we are alive. so we just laid down there and i remember telling my daughter, shh, quiet. >> faith has to make a split second decision. their lives depend on it. should she trust the man talking to her child. coming up -- >> baby, baby, touching my daughter. baby, baby.
"dateline." i'm crar i'm craig melv. gunmr gunmen hgunmen wee building. searching for more victims. the two mothers both hiding with their children were hoping that their time was not running out. here's kate snow. for 3 1/2 hours after armed gunmen stormed the westgate mall, two mothers had been trapped. catherine walton crouched for cover with three young daughters under a temporary kiosk with gunmen patrolling nearby. and faith and her two young children played dead all that time. they moved once and were instantly shot at.
as a man approached them, faith held her position, but he wasn't a terrorist. he was a police officer. >> baby, baby, touching my daughter, baby, baby. are you okay? are you okay? and i said, wow. in my mind i'm thinking this must be a good person. not are we alive, are we okay. then he said, it's safe. it's safe. it's the police. >> reporter: faith's 9-year-old daughter was the first to move. >> my daughter put up her head. quite hesitant and asked him are you with the bad guys because, i mean, i was still looking down. i was scared. i thought now they've come where we are. so my daughter put her head up. it was too late to tell her to go back down, engaged the policeman in a conversation. are you with the bad people? and then said mama, look up. and then almost against her instincts, faith began to trust. >> when i looked up and seen his civilian jacket, i didn't know who he was.
i wasn't going to trust somebody excellent if they were in a uniform. and then as he sat up, then i saw his shirt. i was able to recognize the uniform. and then he said, it's fine. i'm going to lead you to safety. get up. >> reporter: desperately afraid to move faith agreed it was time to make a run for it. still worried that gunfire would erupt again, faith got up and slowly crept toward the exit with her children. >> i remember seeing a body lying there on the steps as we ran out. but i said i am focusing on where we are going. there was this policeman running too fast and way ahead. the one with my son was lagging behind and i kept on saying, my son, my son. >> reporter: after all those hours forced to keep her children quiet, they were finally out. >> i'm crying now because i'm free, you know. there is all this tears of joy. >> reporter: in his hotel
room 6,000 miles away in charlotte, phillip walton could only hope his story could have just a happy ending. he was combing through kenyan news reports he saw on social media. >> i remember one specifically where they said somebody had just seen them bring a child's body out in a shopping cart and they said it was a 5 or 6-year-old little boy and i thought to myself, well, i don't think anybody would confuse our boys for being 5 or 6. but could they confuse one of our girls for being a little boy? and that was a -- that piece of news was very traumatic to me. >> reporter: in agony and alone, he prayed and started playing one song over and over in his mind. >> i think we do have a measure of grace that comes to us in very difficult times. for me there was a u2 song that went off in the back of my head
called "40." it's from the 40th psalm. i just started reading that psalm over and over again and it was exactly what i needed to hear. and so i took a lot of comfort from that. >> it's got that great -- i know the song. >> it is an awesome song. ♪ how long to sing this song >> yeah, exactly. it came the inspiration of hope and gave me something to pray about during the time that i didn't know what was going on. >> reporter: he was comforted by his faith, but it was impossible not to worry. by now he knew what his wife didn't. that his entire family was caught in a carefully coordinated, full-blown terrorist attack. >> you think the worst, you know. when you know that these are terrorists and you know that their intent is not, you know, to steal something and get out of there, but it's to kill people, and you know their
intent is to hurt christians, you know their intent is to try and disrupt our way of life in kenya. you know, it's -- the realities of what that could mean are very present. >> he had no way of knowing whether his family was alive or not, no way of knowing that soon some of his prayers would be answered. >> coming up, phillip and catherine's sons are trapped in the most violent part of the mall, and a 14-year-old realizes it is up to him to protect his younger brother. >> i just thought, ian first, me second. >> when "dateline" continues. this is charlie not coughing because he took delsym 12-hour. and this is charlie still not coughing while trying his hardest not to wake zeus.
>r i i'm dara b. in a series of off camera rem k remarks to reporters he said the u.s. should be able to retaliate if they kill our people. a chain reaction crash on the pennsylvania turnpike kills five and leaves 60 hospitalized. it involved a tour bus, three tractor trailers and a passenger car. the national transportation safety board is investigating the incident. now back to "dateline."
welcome back to "dateline." the world watched in horror as the terrorist attack on nairobi's westgate mall unfoameded. many were stuck inside with little communication to the outside. phillip walton was far from kenya when he learned his wife and children were in the building. all he could do was wait and pray. here's kate snow. three hours had passed since phillip walton was awakened by a call telling him his family was trapped inside the westgate mall, pinned down by gunfire. he had been on his computer all morning checking for updates. then suddenly he received a facebook message from a friend with a freeze frame, a video and there in the bottom right-hand corner was an unmistakable sight. his two sons alive and outside
the mall. >> it was my two sons standing with my business partner, who is a very big, very noticeable man. >> reporter: paul weaver raced down to the mall area and confirmed the picture was real. the boys were out. >> and just seeing them, i mean, i don't think there was any bigger hugs in the world. but it was joy. but at the same time seeing the anguish in their face. and blez, we just sat on the floor and he laid his head down and all the emotions coming through him. it was the greatest moment and one of the saddest moments at the same time. >> reporter: a joyful moment for phillip knowing his boys were finally safe. but too brief because he knew his wife and three young daughters were still trapped in that mall. the walton boys had endured 3 1/2 hours in the most dangerous area in the department store where terrorists hunted down innocent victims, terrifying for anyone, but especially two boys separated from their mother.
this is blez walton. it was difficult for him to recount the story of what happened to him and his brother but he wanted to tell it starting from the beginning. the two brothers just paid and were still standing in the checkout line when they saw something strange. >> what is the first thing you hear or see that's weird? >> everybody looks to the main entrance and we all look as well. everybody in nakima. and then a loud sound happens and three people go flying. that's when people realize what's going on and they run. >> three people go flying in the air. >> they just like fell backwards. whoo. it was scary. >> did you think it was a bomb or something? >> i thought it was a bomb at first but then when i heard the two gunfire sounds, i knew it wasn't just a bomb. it was something else. >> reporter: he knew he had to protect himself and more than that, he knew he was responsible for his younger brother. >> you grabbed your brother as fast as you could.
>> yeah, and just ran. >> were you pushing him? >> yes. >> you didn't want him to see anything. that's hard for -- that would be hard for me, hard for a grownup. >> yeah. >> at 14, that's pretty darn hard. >> it really is. >> reporter: blez clutch ing his brother ian raced away from the gunfire with just one thought. >> i just thought ian first, save him, me second. >> and you headed toward the back of the store. >> other people at that time were rushing back, so we followed the crowd. >> reporter: they made it to a storeroom at the back of the mall. others were hiding there, too, including an american mother with her own kids. without catherine there to comfort them, the boys stayed with that mother. blez hoped they were far enough from the gun-toting terrorists, but they weren't. surveillance video shows the terrorists made it all the way in the back hunting for more victims.
but this wise 14-year-old did something ingenious. >> i finally just pulled ian aside, sat him down behind a thing of flour. there's one by one by one meters of flour on all sides of him. >> so kind of like a barricade of flour bags. >> yeah. we pulled toilet paper on top of our heads so no one would see us. >> why did you need to be hidden? >> we didn't know if people were going to be walking back and looking for us, so we just pulled all stops. >> so-year-old ian walton remembers how scared he was. >> did you see any of the bad guys? >> no, but i did see someone close the gate to where we where and it seemed like they were trying to shoot through it and throw grenades to blow it up but it never got through. >> you heard a lot of loud sounds. >> yeah. >> yikes. >> you said you were back there -- how long? >> 3 1/2 hours. >> you thought about it a little bit, yeah. but when you were there, i know if it were me, i would have been
really, really scared. prosecutor you pretty, pretty scared? >> all my brother and me did was just pray for our family and just laid there. >> reporter: they lay there and listened. >> and every once in a while we'd hear gunfire, grenade sounds and at one point these people came in saying we're the police. it's okay. >> reporter: the gunfire the walton boys had been hearing briefly paused and those voices identifying themselves as police were encouraging people to come out. around him blez heard people start moving. >> they walked out and then about 15 seconds later you just heard loud machine gunfire for about 30 seconds and then it just was quiet. >> so do you think it was the bad guys luring them out? >> yes. >> you did the right thing by staying where you were. >> the lady we were with told us what to do every step of the way. without her i think my brother and i would have gone out with that crowd. so thanks to her we're still alive.
>> reporter: the walton boys were holed up in that back room when police were able to break down a door and get people out. this security camera shows the chaos in the crowd after being released. look closely. there's blez in his red shirt and ian with his backpack free after 3 1/2 hours of being trapped. relief washed over phillip when he saw his boys and the image his friends sent him. at least his sons were okay. >> i remember thinking at that time, at least i won't be alone. you know, i remember thinking, you know, however horrific this day is, at least the boys and i will have each other if it turns out worse than we would hope or imagine. >> reporter: his wife, catherine, was still trapped under that tiny table with her three girls and now things were looking worse. a man with a gun was headed their way.
coming up, just who was he? and then a daring escape plan from an unlikely hero. >> and then i told the lady, now. >> what happened next amazed the world. when "dateline" continues. the official yogurt of... proving the doubters wrong. it has fifteen grams of complete protein, zero added sugar, artificial sweeteners, or fat. oikos. the official yogurt of fueling your hustle. why would somebody want to suffer if there is options patients want something that works faster for them. that they don't need to. i think dentists will want to recommend sensodyne rapid relief because it's clinically proven to work in 3 days. which means for patients that they get relief very fast.
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the westgate mall, still a scene of terror but their mother, catherine and her three girls were still trapped inside and then a man holding a gun approached them. the next moments would be critical. here's kate snow with the conclusion of our story. for more than four hours, catherine walton, her girls and the kenyan woman helping them huddled in a hiding space barely bigger than a bathtub closed off from the outside world, catherine didn't know she was part of a terrorist attack. all she knew was that gunmen were canvassing the mall shooting at everyone. and now a man with a gun was creeping toward her. >> you were under that table for hours. at some point, you hear something? you see something? >> i think there was a little bit of commotion and the kenyan woman said the cops are here. >> reporter: but it wasn't the police. it was a kenyan man
named abdul haji. the businessman and father of four had received a text message from his brother earlier that morning. >> the message was very brief. it just read at westgate terrorists, pray for me. >> reporter: abdul bolted to the mall and was stunned by what he saw when he got there. carnage everywhere. he was terrified for his brother who works for the kenyan intelligence service and had received death threats from the same terror group that was now attacking the mall, al shabaab. >> at this point in time the magnitude of the whole situation dawned on my. >> reporter: security forces were just arriving and abdul who is licensed to carry a gun decided in an instant to join them. they entered the mall from the parking garage on the top floor. abdul's brother was still in the mall and not far from catherine walton and her girls on the main floor. he was hiding in a bathroom. abdul worked his way down to the
main floor, and as he did, his brother managed to escape. >> i reached my phone, tried to call him and i see this message on my screen saying, i'm out. i'm safe. please come out. >> reporter: but abdul didn't come out. despite the gruesome scene, the blood, the bodies, the smell of smoke and constant gunfire, he decided to stay and help. abdul searched through the mall looking for victims then he made a discovery that shocked him. >> i looked down and i see somebody hiding behind a table. it was a lady. she looked very scared. and i'm thinking, she was right in the middle of the cross fire. >> reporter: catherine spotted abdul too but sensed he wasn't a threat. >> how did you know they weren't terrorists? >> they weren't carrying the large guns we had seen that the terrorists had. >> reporter: with just a few words between them, catherine walton and abdul quickly
coordinated an exit strategy. >> we opened fire towards the door to scare the terrorists away. >> then it was time. >> then we hold fire and then i tell the lady, now! and suddenly this young girl appears out of nowhere and i just call to her to run towards me and she starts running, and immediately, i'm thinking, what a brave girl. >> when porsche got up and ran, did you have a moment where you thought, oh, my god? >> i think i realized that it was precarious, but i was also trusting that if they were telling us to run, that it was safe. >> reporter: for catherine, it was a gigantic leap of fath after shielding her daughters for 4 1/2 hours, she knew to save them she would have to let them go. the image of 4-year-old porsche running to abdul was one no one would soon forget. catherine wasn't far behind and they weren't alone.
these images show the terror on the faces of others being rescued by the police in those same moments, their desperation to be free. in north carolina, phillip got a phone call. it was from his business partner eric. >> i got confirmation from eric that he was standing there with him and that they were all safe. >> your whole family? >> yeah. i broke down and cried. yeah. and then it -- you know, then you can let go. then you can just kind of -- you can collapse. >> later, a picture followed. his wife and children trapped in that mall for hours in terror were now in the safety of a friend's house together. >> simply the most precious thing i could even imagine to see all of them sitting there in safety and knowing that they had come through it. >> reporter: phillip grabbed the first flight back to kenya. >> must have felt really good
when he got off the plane. >> it was very good because you know the mom when dad's not around you feel like you have to keep it together and you have to be strong and the kids were very excited to see him. they had been asking. they had been relieved to finally be able to touch him and hug him and have that extra security. >> reporter: these images show the devastation and destruction of the westgate mall ravaged by a siege that dragged on for four days. terrorists with links to al-qaeda claimed responsibility and the kenyan government said at least 67 people died. for the survivors it was give -- difficult to make sense of it all, to move on. faith went home, hugged her husband and two days after the attack, there was cause for celebration and time for reflection. >> i'm grateful first for being alive or children being alive. i'm grateful to be united with my husband.
i never thought i'd see our second anniversary but we did and this incident had brought us more closer. we now don't want to leave each other's sides. >> reporter: faith and her children were reunited with that police officer who reached out to her on that terrible day, graceful he risked his life to save theirs. >> hello. thank you. >> reporter: the waltons too said they were grateful for friends, new and old, especially young porsche who beamed when we showed her a picture of her rescuer on a smartphone. >> is that mr. haji? what did he do? >> he saved us! >> he saved you! >> hi. how are you? >> good. how are you? >> nice to see you again. >> reporter: three days after the worst day of their lives, the waltons were reunited with their hero. >> how are you? >> reporter: abdul is himself a father and a muslim. it's not lost on him that he is
forever linked to a christian family that chose to live in kenya. >> that's what humanity is all about. it happened that i was a muslim and they were christians but at that time, what i was seeing was a little girl and her mother. i was not seeing what religion that person was. >> lots of emotion. >> as we have been able to tell this story and spend time with haji and, you know, to see the courage of a man like that, it was an inspiration for me. >> reporter: and blez walton said he had a new perspective. you have seen the worst of humanity and you've seen the best of humanity. >> yeah, same day. just a miracle to be able to see both of those in one day. >> reporter: and for catherine and her children, as dismal and as dark as the events in that mall were, she refused to do anything but grow and be positive for herself and her family. >> because i don't want them to come out of this and hate or be angry about what happened. >> it would be easy to be angry. >> it will be very easy to be
angry. i don't want them to see the bad part of it. i want them to come turn that bad situation into something positive. that's all for this edition of "dateline." i'm craig melvin. thank you for watching. it is monday, january 6th, i'm ayman mohyeldin alongside yasmin vossoughian. lots of headlines to get through today. we begin with president trump's latest threats against iran, warning against retaliation for the assassination of its top general cass sem soleimani. while on saturday the president tweeted, quote, let this serve as a warning that if iran strikes any americans or american assets, we have targeted 52 iranian sites representing the 52 american hostages taken by iran many years ago. now, some at the very high level of government and important to tehran and the iranian