BALTIMORE (WJZ) –For so many of us, the thought of being caught up in a terrorist attack never crosses our minds.
That could be because the chances of it happening are extremely low.
One Baltimore man through the same thing — until it happened to him.
He was held hostage by terrorists in West Africa.
He tells Vic Carter about the terrifying ordeal that changed his life.
In a luxury hotel in West Africa, terrorists linked to Al-Qaeda open fire.
The gunmen murder dozens of people and take more than 100 hostages in Burkina Faso.
Maryland native Ed Bunker is one of the hostages.
He’s half a world away from where he works at an office in Fells Point.
He’s on a business trip when he gets caught up in a nightmare that changes him forever.
“I was hearing explosions, I could see smoke rising from the other side of the hotel,” Bunker said.
Bunker recounts for WJZ, how a trip he’s made so many times takes a terrifying turn.
“For the next eight hours, I was hunkered down in my hotel room,” he said.
Vic Carter: Did you think you were going to die?
“I kind of had to face the fact that I may not be walking out of there alive,” Bunker said. “And as the night wore on, I was really becoming kind of ill. I wanted to throw up.”
Hiding in the bathroom of his hotel room, he discovers the Internet is still working. He reaches the U.S. Embassy, who relay his location to French soldiers.
Bunker hopes they’ll reach him in time.
Vic: Describe for me what it was like — the moments before and the moment that someone knocked on your door or came in to get you?
“There’s one question that enters your mind… and that one question is… who’s going to be the next person who comes through that door,” Bunker recalls. “Is that going to be someone who’s coming to rescue me or is that going to be someone who’s going to come in and do me harm.”
It is a rescue. French troops rush in, saving Bunker.
The terrorists behind the attack are killed in the siege.
Vic: How do you view terrorism? For most people it’s such a distant thing — you were right there.
“I obviously take it very personally…we need to recognize this as part of the new normal of the world that we live in,” Bunker said.
Vic: These terrorists made you mad…
I remember thinking to myself…that if necessary, I was ready to take up a gun and help shoot whoever might be there to do us harm,” he said. “I went from feeling like a victim, to recognizing that other people were making a sacrifice for me– and I was then prepared to make a sacrifice for myself and others.”
Bunker says that while he won’t be going back to Burkina Faso in the next few months, he will return to West Africa.