Local Woman in Kenya Mall Day Before Shootings

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    NEWSLETTERS

    AP
    Armed police from the General Service Unit take cover behind a wall during a bout of gunfire, outside the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya Monday, Sept. 23, 2013. Hostages being held by al-Qaida-linked terrorists in a Nairobi mall have not been released despite an earlier statement from the military that "most" had been rescued, a person connected to the situation told The Associated Press on Monday. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

    The sounds of gunfire and chaos filled Westgate in Nairobi as terrorists took over and killed dozens as families ran for cover.

    The Nairobi paper was filled with gruesome images. The front page showing a victim screaming in pain. Other photos show people being rescued and children running to safety.

    A picture captured during a much quieter moment shows Hartford resident Tara Parrish meeting with staff from the UN High Commission for Refugees inside that same mall just one day before.

    "I just think about where we were sitting," said Parrish. "We were sitting outside. The gunman entered through an entrance, and so we would have been right in the area where they began shooting."

    Speaking with Parrish, who just returned to Hartford Monday, we find out it was a stroke of luck that she wasn't caught up in the deadly attack. The person she was meeting the day of the assault changed the location.

    "She had originally said to meet at Westgate, and at the last minute called and said let's meet at ABC instead," said Parrish.

    ABC, another shopping center, is only a short distance away from the center of Nairobi's nightmare. When the violence first began Parrish says it was being called a possible robbery, but as she saw tanks and armed men moving in, she knew it had to be something more.

    What stuck with Parrish, though, was not the terror unfolding around her but the strength of the Kenyan people.

    "Kenyans were really coming together to show there was a sense of unity," said Parrish.

    Parrish hopes those outside Kenya realize the country is more than just this one moment of terror.

    "I wouldn't want something like this to really shade people's view of an entire country because unfortunately things like this happen all over the world," said Parrish.

    She adds that she has no hesitation going back to Nairobi and plans to do so in the future.