ALLEN, Texas – The tragedy of the Allen shooting goes beyond the families and friends of those who died and were injured.
There were hundreds of shoppers and employees being escorted out by police with their arms raised after being locked up, awaiting confirmation that they were safe.
Two full days after the violence, the weight of that experience is coming to bear on many of them.
These are moments the Montez family won’t forget after spending hours in hiding after the shooting started and then scurrying out of the Nike store. They shared that it was faith that got them through.
Mom Sarah Montez is thankful for the lives of her boyfriend and two little boys: 10-year-old Alex and 9-year-old Lorenzo.
“As we stood in line, my youngest and I. I heard everyone running. Then I heard everyone say there was a shooter,” she recalled.
Sarah snapped a photo after she emerged alive from the mass shooting, noting that the matching white tennis shoes her family wore that day aren’t bloodied.
“I grabbed my youngest and threw him on the ground,” she recalled. “And I had him go to the back wall where the clothes were hanging so he could be hidden, and I moved the hanging clothes so he could be hidden.”
They were hidden in the back of the Nike store, safe from the mass shooter who killed eight people.
Sarah’s boyfriend Scotty Montez says he heard two shots and people running for safety.
“Immediately, we got off,” he recalled. “I know a lot of times they have drills in these scenarios, so I watched the workers as they ran around this certain area. So I just followed them and went to the back.”
The family says they can’t thank the store employees enough for keeping them and others calm during the terrifying ordeal.
“He had red hair and kept everyone calm once we got across the store to the break room. We were there for about two hours,” Sarah recalled. “They said we could leave. Some people were walking by, but we honestly didn’t know what the situation was. We heard rumors here and there that he was dressed like a policeman.”
Meanwhile, Scotty says it was faith that kept his family out of harm’s way.
“I think the Holy Spirit told me to look to the left, and it was weird,” she said. “It wasn’t like a thought or anything. It was a push in my chest, kind of like a little push that says look to your left. I look to my left and I see ‘children’ in bold. And when I saw that, I said, ‘All right, Lord. I’ll be obedient.'”
The Montez family say they are everyday heroes to keep families as if there is calm despite the panic.
Meanwhile the memorial continues to grow out of the mall. The artist behind the project said she hopes it helps the community heal.