CITRUS HEIGHTS (CBS13) — Police are crediting Citrus Heights Police Department K9 Officer Axel with stopping an active shooter situation at The Sunrise Mall.

A Citrus Heights woman was caught in the crossfire, and a bullet went right through her windshield.

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Tuesday on the scanner, Citrus Heights dispatch said, “They just did advise, there is a female who has been injured. It sounds like a passerby. They don’t know how she’s involved.”

That passerby is Sam Avila. Avila said she and her three-year-old son Logan were in the wrong place at the wrong time.

“I just felt like it was my fault,” she said.

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She was driving by the mall, on her way to drop off a stray puppy at a friends house. She remembers a heavy police presence in the Macy’s parking lot. She said her windshield shattered suddenly.

“I just heard, ‘pop, pop, pop’ and then my window exploded,” said Avila.

A stray bullet from the shootout went through her windshield. Her son, Logan was sitting in the back seat. She said the whole thing, was unreal.

“That split-second it takes for you to turn your head around, look behind you, it was just awful because I didn’t know what I was going to see,” Avila said.

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Both she and Logan were okay, aside from some cuts from the car glass. The bullet did graze Avila’s head, taking out a chunk of her hair.

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“A bullet just went through my car, my head burns, there’s glass in me, my son Is okay, he wasn’t crying, he’s so tough,” she said.

Avila and her fiancé were seen hugging their son in a parking lot after the shooting. At that moment, they said they realized how close they were to dying. She said, just a half an inch could’ve taken her life.

“I could just be laying on the table, and that’s it,” Avila said.

Police are hailing K-9 Officer Axel a hero because he was first to run toward the suspect. They say he prevented other people from getting hurt.

The K-9 Handler involved was grazed by a bullet through his shirt, not his bullet-proof vest, and is expected to be okay.

The suspect was identified as Grayson Schuessler of Orangevale. He was shot and killed when officers fired back.

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READ MORE: Suspect In Citrus Heights Shootout Identified As Grayson Schuessler

Marissa Perlman