Jillian Wuestenberg, the 32-year-old white woman who faces felony charges for threatening a black family at gunpoint outside a Michigan restaurant last week, tearfully pleaded her case Thursday in an interview with a local TV station.
“There are a lot of facts that are missing, a lot of things that have only been seen from one side, and not through our eyes,” Wuestenberg told WXYZ Channel 7.
Wuestenberg was accompanied during the interview by her husband — 42-year-old Eric Wuestenberg, who is also charged in the incident and has been fired from his job — as well as their attorney.
“This was just an attack, pure and simple, from the other side,” Jillian Wuestenberg said. “We were berated, our race was brought into it. I just wanted to go home to my children and feed my children.”
Wuestenberg acknowledged she may have bumped 15-year-old Makayla Green with her bag as she was leaving the restaurant, but said she didn’t understand how the incident escalated. Wuestenberg claims she tried to apologize to Makayla but ultimately drew her weapon — which had been holstered beneath her shirt — after she was “rapidly and aggressively approached” by “multiple people” who got “within two feet “of her. (Makayla Green and her mother, Takelia Hill, were unarmed.)
“It’s hard to watch, it’s scary,” Wuestenberg said of video of the incident, which has been viewed millions of times online. “The more I see it, the more I realize I’m more afraid of that situation now than I was then. I was terrified at that moment and my terror is just exponentially greater since then, looking back, seeing how in danger I really was. … I remember thinking, I’m not going home tonight.”
Wuestenberg said she grew up around a lot of guns and rifles — “they were just an everyday part of life” — and admitted to chambering a bullet during the incident. “That meant I’m about to die, and I don’t want to die,” she said.
She also addressed allegations of racism: “I have never seen myself as ignorant or racist. I have a genuine love for every single person I meet. Everyone has a story, everyone is important, and that really crushed me at the core of who I am, because I genuinely adore every person I meet. … There is so much hate in this world at this point in time and I don’t want a single person to feel what we’re feeling right now.”
Asked if there was anything she would have done differently, Wuestenberg said, “I would have stayed home and cooked.”
Watch the interview as well as the original video below.