Cat Deeley is opening up about how a terrifying active shooter incident prompted her to relocate her family from Los Angeles to London — permanently.
“Fear was part of this,” the So You Think You Can Dance host tells YOU magazine about her decision to swap sun-drenched California for the British capital, where she now lives with husband Patrick Kielty and their sons Milo, 4, and James, 2.
It was, Deeley says, largely prompted by the day last year when Kielty and Milo got caught in the middle of an active shooter incident at L.A.’s Century City Mall.
“They shut down the centre. I got a call from Paddy, saying, 'They’re taking us out through the fire exits but nobody can get to their car. If we walk to a junction, can you come and get us?’,” Deeley tells YOU about the incident, which took place last summer.
(While it's unclear if it is the incident in question, LAPD responded to a call about an active shooter situation at the mall in March 2019 and took a man into custody.)
“He [Kielty] wanted to keep Milo calm, so I didn’t understand the enormity of what was happening," she continues. "As I was driving, I began to see helicopters, news vans, firemen and SWAT squads."
"It makes me go funny now. It was terrifying.”
The TV presenter eventually found her husband of eight years and their young son by the roadside — with Kielty more "shaken by it" than Milo, she says.
Related: Cat Deeley opens up about the first year of motherhood
‘They had been in a Shake Shack and were pushed into the kitchen," she tells YOU. "He was like, 'OK, Milo, let’s watch some Peppa Pig on my phone.'
"The kids never get to do that normally," she continues. "Peppa Pig saved the day!"
Deeley and her family have now permanently swapped the palm trees and swimming pools of L.A. for an apartment in North London. While the move was hurried up by the active shooter incident, it was also prompted by the couple's desire to live nearer to the many uncles, aunts, cousins, nephews and grandparents that Milo and James have in the U.K.
"We made the right move at the right time," Deeley tells YOU. "Everybody is healthy, but [if we came back] in ten years’ time they might not be."
The relocation has also coincided with a new direction for the five-time Emmy nominee, who has penned the words for an illustrated children's book called The Joy In You that's released in the U.S. on Tuesday.
"I had always wanted to write a children’s book, it had been an ambition of mine for many years. Then after becoming a mama myself it felt like the time was right, to write!” Deeley says in a release.
“I can absolutely relate to feeling frazzled at the end of the day, being too tired to think and completely inarticulate. I wanted a book that said everything I wanted to say when I couldn’t find the words,” she continues.
“These are turbulent times we’re living in, sometimes the world can seem like a very scary place. Even as an adult it is difficult not to feel intimidated or frightened by events taking place around us. Everyone could do with a little ‘Joy’ right now."
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As for her life in L.A., Deeley is happy to have turned the page on that highly successful chapter in her life — and for the extra time that lockdown has allowed her to spend with Milo and James. "I taught Milo to read," she tells YOU.
With active shooter incidents extremely rare in the U.K., she's also happy to just be far removed from the threat of gun violence.
“There was a moment when I was with a friend looking at potential schools for Milo (in LA) and we had to ask the question nobody wants to: 'What do you do if there is a live shooter on the premises?'" she tells YOU.
"They tell you exactly what would happen, whether the kids would go to a safe room or hide under the desks, and you go…" she adds. "The danger suddenly becomes a reality."