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First victim of Desert Sky Mall shooting last December speaks out

Posted at 5:54 PM, Mar 05, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-05 19:54:11-05

PHOENIX — For the first time, a Valley woman is detailing the moments she became the first victim in a violent crime spree outside Desert Sky Mall in December.

On December 23, Phoenix police responded to the area of 75th Avenue and Thomas Road for a report of shots fired and a person with a gun outside the mall.

Police say the man initially shot a woman twice who was inside her car, then carjacked another woman, and while inside that vehicle, shot another man out in the parking lot.

This week, Phoenix police released surveillance video showing one of the victims trying to hide behind a pillar.

ABC15 talked with the first victim, who was shot while waiting in her car to meet a friend at the mall. She says a man came up to her car window.

"He's right there, I'm like 'oh this isn't going to be good,'" said Karen Peterson. "I start the car. The second I start the car he shoots me. Never said a word."

Peterson says she tried to drive away, but the man positioned himself in front of her car and shot her again through her front windshield.

"He said nothing," Peterson said. "If he wanted my car he could have had it, I would have filled it with gas. Go ahead."

Officers eventually tracked down Ruiz in the truck and fatally shot him. This week, police released the body worn camera video showing the shooting itself.

Peterson told ABC15 she is recovering from her injuries, with both bullets hitting her up near her shoulder. She says one of them nearly struck her heart.

"I'm here for a reason, because I'm still here, so there must be something I need to do," she said.

The other shooting victim also survived.

Despite being shot twice, Peterson told ABC15 she isn't angry at the shooter, and values parts of life more now, like being able to see her new grandchild grow up.

While she isn't sure why she became the first target, she says in a weird way, she isn't upset with how this all occurred.

"I'm glad it was me instead of someone else because maybe they didn't have the support system, maybe they didn't have the belief, maybe they didn't have what they needed to get through it," she said.

Peterson, though, does wish she knew why the man opened fire.

"He wanted to take my life," she said. "He wanted to take the other person's life. He ended up losing his own. There had to have been a reason."

Phoenix police say they still haven't been able to determine a motive for the shootings.