Exclusive: Gateway shooting victims share harrowing story
FORT MYERS, Fla. - Only on Fox 4, Bonnie Hohensee and her daughter share what they heard and saw on that terrifying day, May 22, 2013, when Arthur Hohensee tried to kill them.
After narrowly dodging death, Bonnie Hohensee, 71, and her daughter, Susie Cordella, are grateful be alive. They hope their story will motivate others in abusive relationships to get out before it's too late.
It was Wednesday afternoon. Bonnie and Cordella were cleaninng the garage of Bonnie's Lakeland Circle home. That's when Arthur drove up to the house after, they say, he'd been trolling the neighborhood for weeks, violating the restraining order filed against him.
"I was standing at the kitchen table and i heard her screaming 'Mom, mom, mom!'," described Bonnie.
Cordella says she saw Arthur get out of his car with a handgun. A gun she recognized because, they say, he had a collection of them.
"He jumped out of his car and he started firing one after another, after another, round of bullets," added Cordella.
Bonnie added, "Where do you go from a gun? Where do you hide from somebody shooting a gun? We didn't know where to go!"
They ran into the master bedroom.
"We hid in the shower, like that was going to save us," said Bonnie. "And we could hear him shooting over and over. "He was screaming you **** you're going to die!"
Then, they say, Arthur switched guns. He was shooting his shotgun from the lanai.
"I saw the screen door open up and him starting to enter and i told mom that we needed to run," recounted Cordella.
Bonnie added, "she said run mom, here he comes!"
That's when they dashed to the other end of the house realizing every room was on fire.
"Then we ran into the furthest bedroom and barricaded ourselves,"said Cordella. "Mom laid on the floor. I heard him in the attack and i thought, 'Oh dear God he's going to start shooting, he's going to shoot down at us'."
Worried about both bullets and flames, Cordella quickly barricaded the door and covered her mom with a mattress.
"I thought one of us has to live because i have a 21-year-old, and one of us has to live," said Cordella. So, they could take care of him."
Bonnie went on to explain, "The lady on 911 kept talking to me and i just put the phone down and gave up," Bonnie said. "I said I'm just going to lay down and i want to die."
But what Cordella did next saved their lives.
"She ripped the window out of the wall," recalled Bonnie. "She ripped it right out of the frame."
Cordella explained, "I dove out the window head first and the SWAT team was there," she said. "And they got me and they went and they got my mom and we were free."
They were treated at the hospital for smoke inhalation. Bonnie is living with Cordella while she tries to piece her life back together. As her attorney, Melissa Skeen, said about Bonnie, "She's a tough woman."