'Very traumatic scene': Witnesses, family members describe Mayfair Mall shooting
"It was so loud, and I think that's probably because we were so close to it," said Jill Wooley. She says she heard gunshots from inside Macy's.
While she was in complete disbelief, her instincts kicked in. She just knew she had to keep her mother safe.
"I got down and ran in the opposite direction and found a stairwell nearby and went down in the basement," she said.
Steve Humphrie says his daughter called and said that someone was shooting in the mall. He immediately got in his car.
"When she called me, I could hear the shots, so you know, I just took off."
Humphrie was able to Facetime his daughter and says police had her wait in a hallway with a large group of people.
"Any father would be scared and nervous, I just tried to get here as fast as I could," he said.
Others were not so lucky. One man we spoke with was worried sick and having a hard time reaching his cousin.
"I am extremely worried 'cause his phone's dead," he said.
Some mall store employees say they didn't hear the gunshots, but the scene was chaotic.
"It was a very traumatic scene to hear the people's screams," said one employee. "My first thought was to make sure everybody was safe inside of my store and get out immediately."
While the trauma may linger, witnesses say they are thankful to be alive.
"I think there's a certain amount of shock that's going on, and once I have some time to sit and reflect I think I'm certainly going to appreciate just how fortunate we were," said Wooley.
"You never know what could've happened to myself or my associates or other customers inside the mall -- just very thankful, that's all."
Throughout the night, reunions have been happening, and some have been pretty emotional.
Magett is one of several shoppers who were inside of Mayfair Mall, now trying to wrap their heads around what happened.
"I just dropped everything, I dropped my bags in the store and just left running."
"It's the first time with COVID that I've gone out into the mall," said Judi Mucklin. "I, all of a sudden, heard one of the employees say 'take shelter. Go into the back. Come in the stock room.'"
Other shoppers shared a similar experience.
"We were just about to leave and we heard maybe like 10 gunshots, and then we started running, so we went into the back room with some staff in the store and we were locked in there for a while, and then we finally got escorted almost three hours later," said Talia Rogers.
"It's kind of sad that you can't go shopping and feel safe anymore," said Haley Kind. "I instantly went to my phone' I texted my mom, I texted my friends and said I'm safe."
Less than a mile away, many of those family and friends who received a relieving text or phone call waited at the At Home store, where shoppers were reunited with their loved ones after being transported in a county bus.
"It feels good finally being able to hug my mom," said Rogers. "It kind of just makes me realize, hug your loved ones more, say I love you, you never know when's the last time you're going to see them."