In November 1978, now Congresswoman Jackie Speier was a 28-year-old assistant to U.S. Representative Leo Ryan when she and several others accompanied him on a trip to the Peoples Temple Agriculture Project, a remote settlement in Guyana, better known to the world as Jonestown.

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Speier says the intent of the trip was to investigate reports of widespread physical and sexual abuse from defectors of the Peoples Temple; a religious sect led by the Reverend Jim Jones.

WATCH Congresswoman Jackie Speier Shares First-Hand Memories Of Events Surrounding 1978 Jonestown Massacre

At the end of the trip, Speier says there was an effort by the Ryan delegation to help those who wanted to leave Jonestown make their return to the United States. During the attempt, Representative Ryan was assassinated - shot to death - at an airstrip along with three journalists and one of the defectors. Speier was shot five times.

“I still carry two bullets,” says the Congresswoman, adding, “I shouldn’t be alive today.”

Over the next several hours, hundreds of Jim Jones’s followers died by either drinking cyanide-laced fruit punch, being forcefully injected with the poison or shot. While some refer to the events in Jonestown as a “mass suicide,” Speier says she regards them as “a murder by Jim Jones of over 900 people.”

“They were subject to mind control,” she continues. “They had been beaten down emotionally and physically so that they had nowhere to go.”

Watch the video above for more of now U.S. Representative Jackie Speier’s first-hand account of the deadly events at Jonestown. What does she credit with keeping her alive?

Congresswoman Jackie Speier is the author of “Undaunted: Surviving Jonestown, Summoning Courage, and Fighting Back.”

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