As a gang of al-Shabaab terrorists fired semi-automatic guns and detonated their bombs, Simon Crump didn’t lose his wits.
Instead, his cool-head and quick-thinking stopped him – and others – from being injured, or worse.
The Australian PR whiz was inside his office in the Kenyan capital Nairobi when four militants launched a devastating assault on a hotel, restaurant and office complex.
Since then a total of 14 people have been confirmed as killed in the attack, which started with car bombs and was followed by at least four armed men who invaded the hotel and shops.
“I heard the explosion, followed by some gunshots, which obviously isn’t a good sign and not something you want to hear on a Tuesday afternoon,” Simon told 9News.
Simon, like the 20 or so others who were working inside the shared office space, made a run for it. He raced back inside to grab his mobile phone when it dawned on him: it was too late to escape.
Simon, with three others, took refuge inside a boardroom.
“We weren’t able to move the table so we put a few chairs, four chairs, to sort of make sure people couldn’t break in through the door,” he said.
The 30-year-old from Griffith, in country New South Wales, said he didn’t contemplate the worst possible outcome and tried to stay positive, communicating with friends and even security officers outside the building.
He and the others weren’t armed.
“If someone with a semi-automatic rifle is going to make it through three doors, no matter what sort of thing I had it’s probably going to be quite futile,” he said.
“I’d be a hostage or be killed.”
For two harrowing hours, as the militants embarked on a murder spree inside the nearby hotel and restaurants, Simon stayed put.
“The lady I was with was a lot calmer. [She] stayed on phone just messaging loved ones and friends,” he said.
“The guy got a little bit panicky and thought people were coming, terrorists, police. He thought maybe he could escape out the window which I assured him wouldn’t be possible.”
Security guards eventually freed the group, ordering them outside where they made a run for it.
“There were more gun shots, another fire fight happening, so we were ducking for cover, you know, how do we sort of get out of here? Where can we go that will make us safe?”
Simon spoke to his parents in the hours after the attack, reassuring them he was fine.
What happened still hasn’t hit him.
“The adrenaline’s certainly worn off, but I haven’t thought very deeply around the sort of seriousness of the situation I was in,” he said.
“It might hit me tomorrow, it might hit me in six months’ time. I really don’t know how I’ll respond.”
Eleven Kenyans, an American and a Briton were among the casualties, morgue staff said.
The American has been identified a Jason Spindler, who survived the September 11 attacks, according to his brother Jonathan.
The 40-year-old was chief executive of investment firm I-Dev International, had lived in Kenya for about five years and also served with the US Peace Corps in Peru.
“It is with a heavy heart that I have to report that my brother Jason Spindler passed away this morning during a terror attack in Nairobi, Kenya. Jason was a survivor of 9-11 and a fighter. I am sure he gave them hell!” Jonathon wrote on Facebook.
“Know you are mountain climbing with the angels tonight, Jason. You lived fully and beautifully, but you left us far too soon,” one Facebook friend wrote.
Two victims have not yet been identified.
Somali militant Islamist group al Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attack.
Kenya has seen a number of terror attacks in recent years – most notably in areas close to the Somali border and in the country’s capital.
Al Shabaab killed 67 people at the Westgate shopping centre in 2013 and nearly 150 students at Garissa university in 2015.
© Nine Digital Pty Ltd 2019
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