Monday's mass shooting at the Navy Yard by former Navy reservist Aaron Alexis seared terrifying images of chaos and confusion into the minds of employees of Building 197 who were just starting their day.
Terrie Durham and Todd Brundidge, both executive assistants in Building 197, said they started shuffling people out of the exit on their floor after a fire alarm sounded. As they were standing in the hallway, a gunman appeared and started firing.
"I could see his face," Ms. Durham said. "He looked around and fired. We were lucky he was a bad shot."
Mr. Brundidge said the distance in the hallway between the shooter and himself was about 30 yards. He could see the shooter was a man dressed in what appeared to be blue clothing. He said he could not tell whether it was an official uniform or other military garb.
Asked whether the gunman said anything, Ms. Durham said "not a word. He raised the gun and started firing."
She said as soon as the announcement went out about an active shooter, "we focused on getting everyone out as fast as possible."
Navy Yard worker Rick Mason said employees practice emergency evacuation drills several times a year.
"Amidst the excitement and confusion and the fear, people still knew what to do and what was expected," Mr. Mason said.
Mr. Mason said on MSNBC that he heard gunfire and said a co-worker spotted a gunman on a fourth-floor interior balcony "standing there with a shotgun ... peering over the overlook down to the first floor area and shooting people as they were walking around the cafeteria."
"One of the managers came out and shouted for people to start leaving the building," Mr. Mason said. "So I immediately got up and along with some other coworkers, we all just evacuated the building through one of the stairwells."
In an interview with the local Fox News station, Cmdr. Tim Juris said he was also on the fourth floor of Building 197 when he heard a series of muffled shots. As a fire alarm sounded, he joined a group fleeing to an alley behind the building to get away from the shooter.
The Navy commander recalled how a fellow military officer standing next to him was shot in the head as the two tried to escape.
"I was talking to another man there" about what happened, "and then he was shot," the commander said, saying he quickly moved away from the alley and climbed a fence to safety. Cmdr. Juris said the man was shot in the head and he said it was unlikely that the victim could have survived. He added he never saw the shooter.
Asked whether he felt fortunate to survive, the commander told Fox News, "Well, I certainly don't want to go through that again."
⦁ Dave Boyer and David R. Sands contributed to this report
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