An Asian woman was shot five times while protecting her children in series of shootings that occurred on November 13 and 14 in Rancho Tehama, California. Tiffany Phommathep was shot by 44-year-old Kevin Neal in the Rancho Tehama shooting, which left five dead and 12 wounded earlier this week, according to NBC.
On Tuesday morning, Phommathep was dropping off three of her four children at school. At this time, Neal pulled up to the school alongside her truck and started firing from a high-powered rifle. As shots rang out, she threw herself on top of her 10-year-old son sitting in the passenger seat, shielding him from the bullets. She sustained four shots to her back and shoulder and one shot to her hip.
“I just kept on praying that he’d go away because I can’t take another bullet. I knew I wouldn’t make it,” Phommathep said.
Her three children were also injured in the shooting — 10-year-old John Jr. was shot twice in the calf, six-year-old Jake was shot in the foot, and two-year-old Nikos was cut by glass, a bullet narrowly missing him lodging itself in the car door instead.
Phommathep, who possesses a concealed carry permit, reached for the handgun in her glove box, but by that point Neal had set his sights on other victims.
“She was in so much pain, but she had to protect her kids,” her husband, Johnny Phommathep, told L.A. Times. “She said the gun felt like it was a thousand pounds, and it was like there was lava in the back of her shoulder.”
In need of immediate help, Phommathep “floored it as hard as she could,” believing she was going to die as she bled profusely and drifted in and out of consciousness. She pulled into a gas station, where she and her sons frantically screamed for help. She mustered the strength to ask four different people for assistance, dragging her bleeding and broken body out of her car, but was turned down each time.
“Found some more strength to open my window, my door and I hopped out to her and asked her, ‘Can you help? I’m shot, I’m dying, and my kids are in the car.’ She said she couldn’t help me because she only had a two-seater and she was late for work,” Phommathep said. “That hurt my heart a lot to hear her say that.”
Unable to find willing aid, Phommathep got back in the car and drove five miles before spotting a sheriff’s car. “She … crawled out, bleeding,” said her husband. The family finally found help from Tehama County Assistant Sheriff Phil Johnston, who was able to secure medial assistance for the dying woman and her wounded children. “If it wasn’t for him, my wife wouldn’t be here.”
Medical personnel have since treated Phommathep and her children; all her children have been released, but she remains in the hospital due to the severity of her wounds. Physicians were able to remove all bullets, save for the one lodged in her hip, which will remain.
Regarding those unwilling to help, Phommathep says she understands why they hesitated. “I think they just didn’t want to get involved in case I was being, like, chased by some lunatic that was trying to gun me down,” Phommathep explained. Still, she encourages people to help in these situations going forward.
Johnny Phommathep is just grateful to have his family alive and recovering.
“We’re one of fortunate ones,” he said. “We can go home.”
Friends and family have set up a GoFundMe page to cover medical expenses and bills accrued while the Phommatheps recover.
Images via GoFundMe