A victim of the El Paso shooting credited a U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer for saving his life. The officer, Donna Sifford, assisted the victim with immediate first aid and helped get him to a hospital before he succumbed to his wound.
Christopher Grant went to the Walmart in east El Paso with his mother on Saturday. The shooting began as they carried out their weekend shopping. Grant rushed to his mother to shield her, KTSM reported.
His mother, who he described as a “gun-wielding grandma,” made a fateful decision to not carry her concealed .38 caliber Smith & Wesson revolver because “they were just going to Walmart.” Unable to defend herself, she fled to the rear of the store while the gunman continued to fire.
Grant decided to confront the shooter, unarmed.
“I started throwing random bottles at him,” Grant told a CNN reporter. “I’m not a baseball player, so one went this way, one went that way.”
One of the bottles finally connected, drawing the attention of the shooter and his deadly rifle. The shooter opened fire on Grant, striking him in the back. “It was like somebody put a hand grenade in my back and pulled the pin,” Grant explained from his hospital bed. He fell to the floor after being shot.
He told the reporter he could hear other people praying in Spanish. He said they begged the shooter for their lives.
“They were on the ground, and he still shot them in the head … He had no remorse for their lives at all,” Grant told the reporter.
Despite a serious wound, Grant managed the strength to make his way out of the store. That is where he encountered his “guardian angel,” the woman who would save his life.
Off-duty Port Director Sifford also decided to go to the Walmart without her sidearm. That did not stop her from rushing to the aid of multiple victims.
“We were trying to get as many people as possible out,” Sifford told CNN.
“We didn’t know where the shooter was,” she explained. “We ducked down between two vehicles on the northeast side of Walmart. Chris was fading, losing a lot of blood.”
Two Walmart employees grabbed first-aid kits and paper towels. They helped Sifford pull Grant from the building to cover between two vehicles in the parking lot. While waiting for help, Sifford called Grant’s mother and confirmed she was okay. His mother found safely in a cargo container in the rear parking lot.
About that time, an off-duty police officer pulled up in his pickup truck. They loaded Grant into the bed and took off for the nearest hospital.
Two days later, Sifford met up with Grant at his hospital bed. “We bonded out there, and I’m just happy to see he’s doing well,” she expressed.
“This is my guardian angel, Donna,” Grants said as she came in the room. “You are an amazing person. You did your job and you did your job very well.”
“There was no hesitation,” he continued. “You knew exactly what to do, and I honestly think you saved my life … You did everything that you are trained to do.”
Grant remains troubled by the fact that he survived while so many, including a little girl he saw killed, were not as fortunate. The shooter left 20 people dead on that Saturday — two more would die in the following days from their wounds.
“If I could trade my life for that little girl’s life I saw killed, I would do it in a second,” Grant stated. “She had school supplies. I’m 50 years old. My life is almost over, so I would have traded my life for that life any day of the week. Why would you kill an innocent child?”
Acting CBP Commissioner Mark Morgan praised the 27-year CBP officer and Air Force veteran. “Port Director Sifford showed remarkable courage on Saturday,” Morgan tweeted. “She provided first aid to a man who credits her with saving his life and she continued to run back inside to bring others out to safety.”
As fate would have it, Sifford and Grant are neighbors who did not know each other prior to the Saturday shooting massacre. “He lives right down the street,” she said.
After the off-duty police officer took Grant to the hospital, Sifford remained on the scene to provide help to whomever she could.
“She is the embodiment of CBP’s core values and I am so proud of her,” Commissioner Morgan tweeted Tuesday.