Mother who went into labor during Northlake Mall shooting: 'I'm - | WBTV Charlotte

Mother who went into labor during Northlake Mall shooting: 'I'm grateful to have him'

Mÿlo Wiggins was born Dec. 26, two days after his mother was rushed to the hospital when she went into labor at Northlake Mall as gunshots went off on Christmas Eve. (Courtesy of Christa Dunbar) Mÿlo Wiggins was born Dec. 26, two days after his mother was rushed to the hospital when she went into labor at Northlake Mall as gunshots went off on Christmas Eve. (Courtesy of Christa Dunbar)
Kenneth Wiggins, Mÿlo Wiggins and Christa Dunbar pose at Carolinas Medical Center, where the boy was born after 48 hours of labor. Christa went into labor on Christmas Eve as gunshots went off at Northlake Mall. (Courtesy of Christa Dunbar) Kenneth Wiggins, Mÿlo Wiggins and Christa Dunbar pose at Carolinas Medical Center, where the boy was born after 48 hours of labor. Christa went into labor on Christmas Eve as gunshots went off at Northlake Mall. (Courtesy of Christa Dunbar)
CHARLOTTE, NC (Jonathan McFadden/The Charlotte Observer) -

Something good was born from the bedlam at Northlake Mall on Christmas Eve, when gunshots split the air and an alleged gunman died in a shoe store.

His name is Mÿlo Wiggins, and he weighs 8 pounds, 6.5 ounces.

He was born Dec. 26 at Carolinas Medical Center. His mother, Christa Dunbar, 22, delivered him there via cesarean section two days after paramedics wheeled her from the north Charlotte mall on a gurney.

The circumstances that precipitated Mÿlo’s entry into the world were frightening, says his grandmother, Veronica Dunbar.

Yet, the baby boy is completely healthy and content as long as he eats on time, according to his mother.

“I’m grateful to have him,” Christa Dunbar said Tuesday as she waited to be discharged from the hospital. “I’m just ecstatic that he’s here, regardless of the situation.”

Knocked down

After reports that a woman went into labor during the mall shooting, many people speculated that the woman must be the girlfriend of the man who was killed in a confrontation with police. Friends say that Daquan Westbrook, 18, was expecting a baby girl.

But the Dunbar family is not connected to Westbrook, who died after Charlotte-Mecklenburg police say he pointed a gun at an officer during a dispute in Journeys, a shoe store on the mall’s lower level.

CMPD Officer Thomas Ferguson, a 19-year veteran, shot Westbrook. An investigation is in progress.

Veronica and Christa Dunbar had gone to the mall so Christa, already nine months pregnant and overdue, could walk to help stimulate labor. They, along with Christa’s best friend, were planning to leave and go to the nearby boardwalk when they heard the gunfire.

Panic ensued. People grabbed their children, in line to take pictures with Santa Claus, and started running, Veronica Dunbar said.

“The mall was torn to pieces,” she said. “Food was everywhere. Chairs, turned over. Tables, turned over. People started screaming, (and) I grabbed my daughter. My daughter fell on her stomach three times.”

At her friend’s urging, Christa Dunbar tried to run with the crowd. But she was wearing a long dress and boots and tripped several times, unable to guard her abdomen as she fell, she said. After the third time, the Dunbar women and the friend remained on the floor and crawled over to Kay Jewelers.

That’s when Christa Dunbar rolled onto her side and started to go into labor, Veronica Dunbar said.

A jewelry store employee grabbed Christa Dunbar’s arms and carefully pulled her into the store. Veronica Dunbar followed. Employees shut the store’s gates.

Timing contractions

Medic confirmed that a woman went into labor during the shooting, but emergency officials would not disclose more information, citing privacy laws. While they were not authorized by their employer to give interviews, Kay Jewelers employees confirmed Christa and Veronica Dunbar’s narration of events.

Customers and employees took refuge inside the store, unsure whether an active shooter was on the loose. Employees helped Christa Dunbar behind the jewelery counter.

“My daughter was in pain,” Veronica Dunbar said. “She was just crying and hurting really bad. I was hysterical. I had a panic attack.”

Christa Dunbar faced the possibility of delivering her first child on a jewelry store floor.

“I was completely scared,” she said. “I was scared for my life. I was thinking about my son.”

Her mother, friend and store employees timed the contractions: Two to four minutes apart.

“I was in tremendous pain. I didn’t want to move,” Christa Dunbar said. “I was like, ‘I’m not moving until the coast is clear.’ ”

Employees helped the mother-to-be into a chair. Several minutes passed before first responders arrived.

“It took forever for the ambulance or anybody to come,” Veronica Dunbar said. “By the time they got there, everybody was being escorted out of the mall. We were the last ones there to leave the whole mall.”

Outside, in the parking lot, Christa Dunbar’s boyfriend, Kenneth Wiggins, met her. He’d heard about the shooting and left work to be with her, Christa Dunbar said.

They rode in the ambulance together. Veronica Dunbar sprinted to her car. News cameras caught her, and reporters described her as running for her life, she said.

Not exactly, she said: “I was trying to follow the ambulance.”

Her daughter’s ordeal wasn’t over.

Rough labor

Christa Dunbar, who works in the medical industry, said she isn’t sure if it was the terror or adrenalin, but something caused her blood pressure to spike in the mall. Once at the hospital, her cervix was unable to expand, a key part of a natural birth.

Her pelvis hurt. Her blood pressure was high. Her kidneys didn’t function properly. She was swollen.

Doctors told her she had preeclampsia, a condition that causes high blood pressure in pregnant women, she said.

“I really didn’t know what to expect,” she said. “I had normal blood pressure throughout my whole pregnancy until (the shooting) occurred.”

Contractions came frequently. Her blood pressure wouldn’t drop. She was admitted to the hospital, where she was in labor for the next two days.

“It was rough,” she said.

Eventually, doctors decided she needed a cesarean delivery.

“She was really scared, and I was scared for her,” Veronica Dunbar said.

Soon, fear gave way to joy. Mÿlo Wiggins was born at 1:39 p.m. the day after Christmas.

“Despite everything that happened … my baby was healthy,” Christa Dunbar said.

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