Posted September 24, 2013
By REBECCA FERNANDEZ
Last Saturday, Sept. 21, reporter Jason Straziuso had to choose what was more important to him … being a friend or being a reporter.
Jason Straziuso was in Nairobi, Kenya, when he got a frantic phone call from a close friend that was staying the weekend with his family. She was inside Nairobi’s most upscale mall and could hear gunshots. Her husband and 2-year-old daughter were inside, too, but she didn’t know where. Where should she go?
“Over the next several hours, my role as a reporter collided with my concern for close friends in mortal danger,” said Straziuso.
Reporters must separate their emotions from scenes of horror, but that’s a near-impossible task when your friends are facing attackers lobbing grenades and firing bullets.
At first, his friend, Lyndsay, had no idea what was going on, but as soon as he rushed over to the mall, he realized that everyone there was under attack by al-Shabab terrorists.
Lyndsay’s husband, Nick, was with their daughter, Julia, in the downstairs cafe that appeared to be the initial attack point. He scooped up his toddler and ran. They ended up being pushed into a department store storage area and would stay there the next three hours.
“Lyndsay was in a third-floor movie theater when she called me again. If gunmen found her and others, there was no escape, she told me,” said Straziuso.
After Straziuso told the police everything he knew about what was going on inside the mall, he returned to his own work as a reporter. Suppressing his fears that his friends could be killed. He snapped photos, took video, and interviewed a Dutch couple who had been close to the grenade blast.
About an hour later, Straziuso got a call from Lyndsay that she was on the roof and he got some police officers to help her and the roof hostages escape, but husband Nick and daughter Julia were still inside. Eventually, police offers were able to help more hostages escape, Nick and Julia being two of them.
“We were so scared,” Nick said later,”I was just finding any way I could to get out.”
Fortunately, Straziuso was able to help out his friends and, at the same time, get his job done as a reporter. He was so thankful that he was able to accomplish both.
As a reporter, he knew that not everyone’s day ended so well.