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'We knew she was a fighter': Couple that helped save teens in Westgate shooting reunites with survivor

It's not in our nature to run toward danger. But for Kelli and Randy Hammit, there was no other option when a gunman opened fire at Westgate Entertainment District.

GLENDALE, Ariz. — May 20, 2020.

It started as a normal spring night for Randy Hammit, out at Westgate Entertainment District with his friend Marvin.  He and his wife Kelli live next to the complex and loved the easy access to shopping and dining.

But as the sun was starting to set, Randy and Marvin heard a noise that jolted them up out of their seats.

"The noise didn't register at first what it was," Hammit said.

But with his military background it dawned on him quickly that someone was firing a gun at the mall. He and Marvin started running and came across two teens that had been hit by bullets.

Randy called Kelli and told her to come right away. People needed help.

12 News would soon learn the wounded teens they found were Alfredo, 19, who was struck in his chest, and Destiny, 16, whose leg was shattered by a bullet.

Randy used his belt as a tourniquet while Marvin held Destiny's head in his hands, talking to her. Kelli, who worked as a nurse for more than 30 years, went right to Alfredo before rendering aid to Destiny. Randy, Marvin and Kelli all are all members of Civil Air Patrol and have been trained in helping others.

"Trying to get those kids through it," Kelli said. "Just trying to be with them when their parents couldn't be."

Both teens were rushed to the hospital. A third woman, struck by a bullet, was treated at the scene.

Police apprehended the shooter, Armando Junior Hernandez, 20.  He's been booked in jail since the night of the shooting.

Reflecting a year later, Randy and Kelli have processed a lot.

"I look at it that we had to relive it every day," Randy said. "We live there. We walk our dog in the same spot."

"The fact that anybody thinks that what we did is extraordinary is humbling," Kelly added. "It really just fundamentally feels like the thing that you’re supposed to do."

It’s that moral compass that’s landed them at the Gila River Arena Thursday night, one year after the shooting, receiving the Silver Medal of Valor, the highest honor they can get through Civil Air Patrol.

But for them, the real reward was seeing one guest in particular at their ceremony.

RELATED: Dark Side: The Westgate Shooting

Destiny, now 17, walked into the room. The couple immediately embraced the teen and her mom, overcome with gratitude.

A moment Kelli and Randy weren't sure would ever happen, especially since they last time they saw her was leaving Westgate in critical condition in an ambulance.

"We always knew that she was a fighter," Kelli said. "But to be able to see her in a space I didn’t think was possible, up and waking and being able to accomplish all of the things her mom talks about - that’s the thing that I hoped for for her."

RELATED: Surviving Westgate: Glendale mom goes into labor during shooting rampage

It hasn't been an easy road. Relearning to walk was slow; doctors' visits and follow-up surgeries seemed endless. But seeing the Hammits again gives Destiny a new perspective.

"It gives me a little bit of closure," she said.  "They really didn’t have to be down on their knees. To know the shooter was still out there all they could think about to stop the bleeding in my leg - that meant a lot to me."

A trio bonded by trauma but emboldened by strength.

"I think when you’re a nurse for so long, you probably lock things away," Kelli said. "Things that you see and you don’t face. This moment in our lives, I think, gave me my humanity back."

Alfredo and the other woman injured in the shooting also recovered from their injuries.

Destiny says she wants to be a nurse now and plans to keep in touch with the Hammits. 

The Hammits will actually be moving north for a new job later this week. They're grateful they could see Destiny and all the progress she's made before closing this painful chapter in their lives.

"To realize you were in that situation and you made a difference," Randy said. "It's good over evil."

Dark Side: The Westgate Shooting on 12 News Youtube

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