A 37-year-old woman who threw herself over her son when a gunman opened fire on a downtown Dallas protest march, leaving her with a shattered leg, praised police for their actions on Thursday night.
When shots rang out, Shetamia Taylor got separated from all but one her children, her 15-year-old son Andrew. She shielded him from the gunfire. Taylor said she prayed and tried to reassure her son, and herself, that they would be okay.
"I didn't do anything that any other mother, father, wouldn't have done for their own child," Taylor said through tears at news conference Sunday. "'Cause I really feel as though it's going to happen to one of my sons, it's going to have to happen to me first. And it only happened to me and I'm thankful for that."
Taylor said she believed she was surrounded mostly by white officers as shots rang out.
"To see all those police officers covering us as they helped my mom up, there was three officers behind her making sure she didn't get hit again," Andrew Taylor said, calling the officers getting them out of harm's way so quickly "amazing."
When asked if she remembered the officers who helped her, she recalled the first officer she encountered was a "big guy."
"I saw him go down, I saw him when he got hit, he slumped over, and as he was slumping over he said 'he has a gun, run.' I don't think he made it, I don't think he made it," Taylor said.
Taylor thanked officers who ran to the scene the night of the shooting and called them heroes.
"I've always held police officers, at a very high place in life," Taylor said of police officers. "My son, my youngest one, since he was six, that's all he wants to do and I'm going to support him in that, and I'm going to continue to support my community, my police officers. I've never had an issue with police officers. And if anything, it's just made my admiration for them greater, it really it has."
Taylor generally shied away from marches and rallies, but she took her sons — ages 12, 13, 15 and 17 — to the protest.
"I'm just a mother and a wife. I'm not an activist. I'm not a politician. I want to protect my family, and I want my sons to come up as good young men and be productive in their communities," said Taylor. "And I just want them to know that you have to work for anything, in order to achieve something in life."
Jamar,12 and Kavion, 17, were separated from their family amid the chaotic aftermath of the shooting, and fled to a downtown hotel to take cover. They were stuck behind a police barricade until around 4 a.m., when their father was able to pick them up, according to a family member.
Taylor told her son Jauan to run and he did. The 13-year-old clung to a stranger, 33-year-old Angie Wisner, as they searched for safety. Wisner and Jauan took shelter in a stranger's apartment.
Wisner, who also spoke at Sunday's news conference, said they used social media to try to connect Jauan with family members and eventually contacted a cousin who told him his mother had been shot.
The mother of three said she consoled Jauan and told him, "let's just pray she got shot in the leg, and that it ain't bad."
Wisner said Jauan hugged her as he left with his cousin and that was the last time she saw him. The two families reunited for the first time at a news conference Sunday.
Taylor is recuperating from what a doctor called a 'bad fracture' of her tibia above the knee. Doctors at Baylor Scott and White repaired it with a large plate and screws. Doctors said the bullet went all the way through Taylor's leg and that it will take some time for her to recover.
The gunfire left five Dallas officers dead and seven injured, including Taylor and another civilian.
"Of course I'm thankful my babies are okay, but somebody's dad, somebody's husband isn't," Taylor said.
Authorities said 25-year-old Micah Johnson, a black man who lived in the Dallas suburb of Mesquite, acted alone in the shootings. He was killed by police after a standoff.
Taylor said she doesn't understand. "I'm frustrated, I'm angry, why would he do that?"
Asked what she would say to people who are making threats and calling for violence, Taylor said, "Just stop, stop, why? Really why? We don't want it to get worse before it gets better. It's things that we can do that don't involved threatening someone's life."
"These are the people that you call when you are in a situation, you gotta remember that," Taylor said. "What are we going to do if the police decide, you know 'I'm done'? What are we going to do if they stop policing? What are we going to do? What if they just decide, 'we're going to boycott'? Who you gonna call?
When asked what needs to change Taylor said it starts with parenting.
"I would say it starts at home first, first and foremost, it starts at home. The education of your children at home is what's very important. Teaching your sons and your daughters how to first respect themselves, and then they can only have respect for others, law enforcement, doctors, whoever they may encounter in life."
When asked if she'll attend any other rallies, she said she would. Taylor offered sage advice to everyone.
"Stop and think first. Please. Stop and think," she said. "Closed mouth, open mind, will get you a long way in life."