TODAY   |  September 22, 2013

Photographer at Kenya mall describes 'horrific' scene

Tyler Hicks, a photographer for the New York Times, made it to the mall in Kenya just after a shooting. He described a scene of terrified people and casualties. TODAY’s Erica Hill interviews Tyler Hicks.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> york times" photographer tyler hicks was near the mall on saturday when the attack happened and raced inside, capturing dramatic and scary pictures as that drama did unfold. he's also on the phone with us from nairobi. you actually spent a couple hours with the police going through this mall trying to find people.

>> reporter: yes. can you hear me?

>> we have you tyler. tell us what you saw as you spent the time with police forces going through the mall looking for survivors.

>> reporter: it was very traumatic, just arriving in front of the mall there were three bodies, one snil the car from people gunned down. as i proceeded up a ramp to an upper level area, i could see there were people streaming out, very terrified people streaming out from the upper floor of the mall. this is where i went inside and linked up with some kenyan police sweeping through looking for militants and trying to help civilians get out. it was really a horrific scene. a woman had been shot in the head and other -- several men scattered around in a cafe, in front of a bank, at the entrance of a super market . it was really very apparent that this was a serious situation.

>> you've been in some of the worst situations there are in afghanistan, in pakistan. you won a number of awards for your work there. what's different, though, when you're in this situation and this kind of attack is unfolding verses when you're in a war zone ?

>> reporter: there's actually a lot of similarities. the people that we were with were doing kind of a classic sweep that you'd see in a place like afghanistan, going from one door to the next, peering around corners, clearing hallways and moving very cautiously, keeping cautious about any ieds or bombs that might have been planted. so it was very much like a war zone inside the mall.

>> you live in nairobi. was there ever a concern prior to this being in that mall or a place like a mall that it could be a target?

>> reporter: there have been rumors that this mall -- there are two places that have always been discussed, people said this could be an attack that could happen here. it's always a reality, that you think it could happen. it's always, again, a surprise when it does happen. unfortunately it did, and it was a very bad one.

>> we know it is still unfolding there. i know you're near the scene. we're hoping it's wrapped up quickly and without any further loss of life. tyler, appreciate your time. thank you.