Mother shot 5 times by Rancho Tehama gunman begged for help to no avail

Woman being praised for trying to stop Tehama Co. shooter (November 16, 2017)

Tiffany Phommathep was driving her sons to school on Tuesday morning when chaos broke out.

"It was a regular morning. I got my kids in the car, was dropping them off, made a stop at the stop sign," said Phommathep . "I felt a shook on my car. I saw a car pull up beside me and thought it was a regular guy in a rush."

But it wasn't.

The man who pulled up turned out to be a man on a shooting rampage, killing five people and injuring 12 others, including children.

"I was just praying. Every bullet that hit me, I was praying he'd stop. Or run out of ammo," said Phommathep. 

Phommathep tried to protect her 10-year-old son who was in the passenger seat. She was shot five times, four near her heart and once through her hip, cutting up her intestines in three places. She was taken to the ICU, where she went through a four-hour surgery. One of the bullets is still in her body. 

Her 10-year-old son Johnny Jr. was shot in the calf. Her 6-year-old son Jack was shot in the foot. They were both treated for their injuries and released from the hospital. 

"The moment I saw my son's body kind of limp, I was screaming," said Phommathep, through tears. "I was so scared. Don't let it be them."

Instead of her own pain, Phommathep focused on protecting her kids. She has a license to carry, so she pulled out her handgun and attempted to fire back, but wasn't able to. The gunman took off. 

Phommathep then drove for miles, looking for help. She stopped four separate people. Nobody helped. One man said he would call 911 but there wasn't more he could do.

"The second woman, I told her, I need help. I'm shot. My kids are shot. I'm dying," said Phommathep. "She said 'I only have a two-door car. I can't help you and I'm late for work.'"

The fourth person she encountered she thought would be different.

"He said 'Yeah I'll help, just let me make a U-turn,'" said Phommathep . "I was watching my driver rearview mirror. He drove off and never came back."         

Phommathep was ready to give up hope, until she found Assistant Sheriff Phil Johnston with Tehama County. 

"I was just relieved that even if I stopped breathing at that moment, then I wouldn't have left my kids stranded with nobody [and if the gunman returned] get gunned down," she said.

Phommathep is now recovering at the Enloe Medical Hospital in Chico. She is not angry at the gunman, who was actually her neighbor. She is also not angry at those who left her when she needed it the most.

"It hurts my heart a lot that no one stopped. I mean the four people that I stopped," said Phommathep. "But I understand. People are scared and don't want to get involved if a gunman was chasing me."       

Phommathep is still weak. The little energy she has is again, focused on her kids.

"I want to get better so I can be with my kids. I just want to see them grow," said Phommathep. 

Phommathep will have to stay in the hospital for at least two more weeks and go through physical therapy for at least a year.

Her husband Johnny said he is extremely proud of his wife for her bravery.

"I'm supposed to be the anchor, the rock of the family,in one swoop, I almost lost my whole family," said Phommathep."If anything, she exceeded what I could have exceeded. A lot I could learn from her."

Family friends have set up a GoFundMe page to help the Phommatheps with medical expenses and the hardships they will continue to face. 

© 2017 KXTV-TV


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