Oakdale shooting victim: 'It's a miracle I'm alive'

8:36 AM, Feb 14, 2013   |    comments
  • Share
  • Print
  • - A A A +

ST. PAUL, Minn. - Karen Knoblach has rosary beads by her bedside while she recovers at Regions Hospital. She says it's nothing short of a miracle that she's alive.

"There had to be a lot of angels because they saved us," says the 68-year-old Knoblach.

Knoblach was driving to dinner with three of her grandchildren Monday night when accused gunman Nhan Lap Tran opened fire.

Police called it a random shooting spree in Oakdale that left Knoblach initially confused.

"I heard the popping, but I thought I hit something," says Knoblach. "The 20-year-old was sitting behind me and she said, 'Grandma, go! He's got a gun.' So then that's when I took off."

Knoblach never saw the gunman herself, but surveillance video obtained by KARE 11 from a nearby business shows the outline of what appears to be Tran in the moments before police caught up with him. He was trying to get in the buidling but the door was locked.

The criminal complaint describes Tran carrying a 9-millimeter handgun with plenty of extra bullets.

Police say he confessed to the shooting spree when they finally caught up with him.

Tran was formally charged with six counts including second-degree murder Wednesday. Bail is set at $2 million, and a mental health evaluation is now underway.

The big question remains, why.

"We don't know the why. Often times we never know the why. Why do people kill each other? I don't know," says Washington County attorney Pete Orput. "All I know is we're prepared to prove the facts that he did it."

Knoblach was shot twice, in the finger and the leg, but will survive.

Her heart breaks for 9-year-old Devin Aryal, who was killed in the attack, and his mother Melissa who was shot in the arm.

"We could have all been dead, just like that little boy," says Knoblach.

A growing memorial for that boy continues near 7th and Hadley.

Two neighbors covered the many teddy bears left by mourners with plastic because of the pending weather.

"And I thought all these poor little guys are going to be sitting up here soaked," said Lyla, who didn't want to give her last name.

"I'm actually on my way to school so I figured I stop by and help out a bit," added Jessica Marlowe who lives blocks away from where the shooting happened.

Governor Mark Dayton reacted to the shooting Wednesday. He admitted gun violence is not an easy fix but said he has proposed adding more money to the budget to help with mental health issues.

"As a parent myself I can only imagine how terrible that is," said Dayton of the shooting death.

But Knoblach had words of compassion for the accused shooter.

"I guess I feel sorry for him because if he's in that bad of a place in his life, he obviously doesn't have faith and that's what he's got to get," she said.

(Copyright 2013 by KARE. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Most Watched Videos