Mumbai Massacre Survivors Forgive Attackers on Anniversary

Linda Ragsdale describes attack as "hell," but says she's found forgiveness.

ByABC News
November 24, 2009, 2:38 PM

Nov. 25, 2009 — -- When terrorists opened fire in a hotel café last November in Mumbai, India, Linda Ragsdale says she expected to find herself face-to-face with a "monster."

But what Ragsdale saw was shocking: a young boy not much older than her own son back in America, with a gun he struggled to carry and the look of fear on his face.

What came next was "hell," Ragsdale told in an interview from her home in Nashville, Tenn.

On the eve of the one year anniversary of the attacks by 10 Islamic militants that left more than 170 dead – including six Americans – the grim details of the massacre are still fresh in Ragsdale's mind.

Ragsdale, a mother of three, had traveled to Mumbai with members from the Synchronicity Foundation, a Virginia-based meditation group. After a long day of site-seeing, six members of the group decided to eat at the restaurant at the Oberoi Trident, the hotel where they were staying.

"We were eating and then we just heard shots," said Ragsdale. "I don't know how to describe the amount of sound that came after us. It was continuous and nonstop. And just everything exploded."

Diving under the table with the others for protection, Ragsdale said the shooting seemed to be never-ending.

"When it was all finally subsiding then we saw gunman coming through the restaurant and shooting table by table," she said. "I remember thinking to myself, 'I'm going to remember this forever.'"

"He was this little 20-something boy -- the same age as my oldest son -- and was wearing khaki pants just like my kids in their school uniforms," she said. "His posture looked as if he were petrified. He was walking through this restaurant of unarmed, innocent diners expecting war."

In addition to the details about the gunman, Ragsdale remembers other vivid details from the bloody attack.

She can still see the bodies of 58-year-old Alan and 13-year-old Naomi Scherr lying dead next to her on the floor of the Oberoi Hotel just before a bullet slammed into her back and ricocheted through her body.

Ragsdale dragged herself by her arms through the chaos of the dining room, at one point pulling herself over the body of a dead man to safety in the kitchen. She remembers the maître d'hotel helping her take her pants off because they were so weighed down with her blood they were slowing down their escape.

"He looked at me and said I was moving too slowly and I told him to go on without me. And he just said, 'No, you're surviving this,'" she said.