Witnesses were visibly shaken Friday evening after a gunman opened fire on the Virginia Beach Municipal Building, killing 11 people and injuring at least six others.
Thirty-year-old Megan Banton called 911 after she heard gunshots and her supervisor gathered her and others into a barricaded office, according to the Virginia-Pilot. "It felt like forever," Banton told the local newspaper.
Sheila Cook, who works in a nearby building, said she was inside her office when she heard muffled shooting. In an interview with local NBC affiliate WAVY-TV, she said, "I'm still shaken because it's just entirely too much killing going on."
U.S. & World
Stories that affect your life across the U.S. and around the world.
But she also expressed gratitude for the police's swift action. "I just thank God that they were able to alert us in time because if it had been 10 minutes more we all would have been outside," she said. "So that’s what I’m grateful for today."
Edward Weeden, another employee in the building, told WAVY-TV that after hearing what sounded like someone falling down the stairs, he and his co-workers saw a woman “unconscious, blood on her face, blood on the stairs."
Another of Weeden's co-workers ascended the stairs to investigate. When she returned, she told the rest of her colleagues that there was a man with a gun and that a woman had been shot.
“I mean, it’s shocking," Weeden said. "You don’t know how to react,” he said. “You want to stay, but you don’t want to stay.”
City Councilwoman Barbara Henley drove up to the City Hall building and heard sirens wailing at the scene. At first, she thought it was an accident. Then, she saw city employees standing outside on their phones and heard a man shout "get down."
"I was scared to death," Henley told The Virginia-Pilot.