Christchurch Hero Reunites With Woman She Saved From Mosque Shooting
Two weeks on from the Christchurch terror attack, Jennifer Paterson finally feels like she can begin to reflect on the tragedy.
She’s been hailed a true Kiwi hero after helping to save a family from the shootings at Al Noor mosque -- but it hasn’t been easy for her in the aftermath.
Leaving the house has been a struggle. She said she has been too frightened to travel down Deans Avenue, where she first saw the shooting unfold.
While they met in the cruellest of circumstances, Paterson has been reunited for the first time with the woman she took in during the horror of March 15.
Majda El Hajji was at the Al Noor Mosque with her family and narrowly escaped being shot, fleeing with her five-month-old baby in her arms as bullets flew all around her.
El Hajji had been inside the women’s room when the gunman attacked.
“Everyone was scared, everyone was preparing to die,” she said.
Her baby, who was in the mosque for the very first time, was across the room from her on the other side.
“I see him crying but I can't hear his voice, I hear only shooting, his face is crying, crying, crying and my mother, she is saving him,” she explained.
As El Hajji fled the scene with her baby in her arms, she saw a woman next to her get shot.
That’s when Paterson came driving past, unaware of the rampage happening inside.
El Hajji's father-in-law, Elmi Abdukadir, was shot dead during the attack. Initially she wasn’t sure if her husband had survived either -- but was relieved to find out later he had.
Ignoring the gunfire, Jennifer ushered EJ Hajji and her baby into her car, with another two women and a boy, driving them to safety.
“I wanted to protect her, I wanted to protect all of them if I could have, but you just can't,” Paterson told 10 News First.
She’s been struggling to get her mind around what’s happened but like so many in Christchurch, she knows she’s been deeply affected.
So Friday's national memorial will be a chance to take it all in- the grief and the love, the good and the bad that’s come from Christchurch’s darkest days.