Exclusive: Lake Forest native Brian Ludmer recalls deadly LAX shooting

December 23, 2013 (LAKE FOREST, Ill.)

Ludmer's flight on Monday took him through the same airport and terminal where he was shot seven and a half weeks ago. He admits there was anxiety, but this was one trip home he wasn't going to miss.

In the warm glow of a fire and in the shadow of his family's Christmas tree, "home for the holidays" takes on new meaning for Brian Ludmer.

"It's great. It's great. I haven't looked forward to coming home this much in – I mean, I always look forward to it – but this is completely different," said Ludmer.

Ludmer's badly-injured leg is still healing from the moment that changed everything. It was November 1st at Terminal 3 in LAX.

"I just got hit. I didn't see the gunman before he hit me. I didn't even know if he had come upstairs at all, and it just hit me, and I dropped," said Ludmer.

The bullet had shattered Ludmer's leg, and as he lay in the middle of a hallway, he saw the alleged gunman, Paul Ciancia.

"I just assumed at that point that he would shoot me again. He had shot me once. There was no one else in the hallway that I had noticed. It was just me and him," said Ludmer. "I just remember the pattern on the carpet and expecting to be shot again."

But Ludmer says Ciancia moved on, and as he crawled to safety, police arrived.

After being wheeled into an ambulance, Ludmer called his mother in Lake Forest.

"He just said that, not to worry, but he'd been shot. I'm like, 'Oh.' And his voice was kind of shaky, of course," said Judy Flaherty, mother.

As his physical recovery continues, the Ludmers reflect on TSA Officer Gerardo Hernandez, who died in Terminal 3.

"That family at this holiday with children, I just, I think of them a lot," said Flaherty.

"Relief. Gratitude. Gratitude, I guess. I feel very fortunate," said Ludmer.

Ludmer has had three surgeries on his leg, and more may be in his future. But for now, he's just happy to be home. In his plans are plenty of hot dogs and deep dish pizza.

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