Washington, Sep 17: Survivors of Monday’s deadly mass shooting at the Navy Yard in Washington D.C. recalled harrowing scenes of panic, improvisation and personal loss. At least 12 people were killed in the incident.
“It was like pop, pop, pop,” Patricia Ward, a logistics management specialist who was at the Navy Yard cafeteria when the shooting took place, was quoted as saying by Xinhua.
“And in a few seconds it stopped and then pop, pop, pop, pop, we were just flailing.”
Witnesses said a gunman opened fire from a fourth-floor overlook on people in the cafeteria of Building 157. Others spoke of a gunman firing in a third-floor hallway. It was not clear whether they were describing the same gunman or separate ones.
“All the people that were in the cafeteria, we all panicked,” said Ward, after she was rescued.
“We were trying to decide on which way we were going to run out. People that were working in the cafeteria wanted to stay there and hide but I just ran.”
“A few of us just ran out of the side exit, there we saw the security guard. She told us to run to shelter and keep running. Someone had put on the fire alarm. That’s when I heard police flood, everybody was just coming and the call of sirens.”
At about the same time, Naval Capt. Mark Vandroff was conducting his department’s usual 8 a.m. meeting in a third-floor conference room.
“Once we heard the gunshots, and realized they were gunshots, we got down on the floor, closed the door to the conference room, barricaded ourselves in,” Vandroff told Xinhua.
“We took a big conference table, flipped it over and wedged it up the door. Then we got away from the door, thinking that was the safest thing,” he added.
Vandroff said people in the conference room remained calm and used their smart phones to tell people they were okay, while finding out if their other colleagues were safe.
“The real excitement was some number of minutes later, around 8.30 a.m., when we heard gunfire very close to us,” said Vandroff. “We looked up and we saw bullet holes on the top of the wall of the conference room.”
Vandroff said nobody in his department was hurt, and he felt fortunate. But a colleague told him one of his friends died.
“The fact that I lost a friend today is still processing,” said Vandroff. “I don’t know. I’ll go home and think about it tonight.”
Standing at the doorway of her house, Shanika Hult, a resident whose home is about two blocks from the shooting spot, told Xinhua she felt afraid and shaken because the shooting was so close by.
“We are just trying to be safe, the best way we can,” said Hult. “This is all we can do.”