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Evacuees in Annapolis Tell Their Stories

Dominique Maria Bonessi


Anne Arundel County Police say they evacuated 170 people yesterday from the building in Annapolis that houses the Capital Gazette newspapers and other offices. Here are a few of the stories of the survivors.

Jahne Miller, a kindergarten teacher in Anne Arundel County, was at a doctor’s appointment at the Annapolis Medical Center, which shares the 1st floor with The Capital Gazette.

“Next things I know I hear everyone say, ‘get down, get down, lock the doors,’” said Miller. “You know everyone is turning down the lights, running up and down the hallway.”

Miller, waited with other patients, doctors and nurses under a desk in a locked office for an hour until they were evacuated and led across Bestgate Road to the Annapolis Mall.

“I’m a teacher, and lock down drills have become normal for us. So I do them with my kindergartners all the time,” said Miller. “And to just be in a situation where this is no longer a drill, this is real this is happening, I can look out the window and I see helicopters and police cars, it just put a lot of things in perspective for me.”

She was in tears as she sat on a bench outside the mall waiting for her boyfriend to come and pick her up.

“It’s one of those things you fear, you don’t actually think you’ll be in this situation until you’re in it and you’re really feeling all those emotions,” said Miller. “It’s just not knowing where the shooter is, it’s just the unknown until we were evacuated.”

Gracie Rustin, a certified dental assistant, was at work on the second floor of the building. This was her fourth day on the job. Rustin was in the middle of helping the dentist with a procedure when she found out from her co-workers that police were evacuating the building.

“After that I went back and relayed the information to my doctor, well I told him that the building was being evacuated because we didn’t want to alert the patient,” said Rustin.

Rustin says she heard what she thought sounded like breaking glass and recalls seeing the SWAT team enter the building as the elevator doors opened.

“As soon the doors the cops with the guns armed was like hands up, hands up, and I was just crying instantly I was just very shaken,” said Rustin.

Sean Robinson, an employee at The Standard, an insurance company, began hearing sirens from his office on the fourth floor of the building.

“You know eventually we looked out the window and saw cops everywhere. And we kind of went into a panic like where do we go?” said Robinson.

After Robinson and his colleague moved to the back of the office to hide under desks, they decided to call the police.

“Couldn’t get through on the phone and pretty soon we heard this tapping or banging at the door, we weren’t sure if it was the gunman, police, or what,” said Robinson.

It was the police to evacuate Robinson and his colleague. Robinson texted his wife to let her know what was happening.

Over at the mall, Red Cross volunteers brought in food and water for the survivors. Chaplain T, who would only give his nickname, says he was called in from the Joint Force Headquarters National Capital Region to assist those who may have been traumatized.

“We sort of help them deal with whatever the particulars are and even grunt work,” said Chaplain T. “If we gotta go get coffee, we get coffee, and we’ll do transport if necessary.”

He said those working inside the building had taken active shooter scenario courses online and were prepared for what to expect.

“I got the sense that it happened pretty sudden, and I think folks are just trying to process,” said Chaplain T.

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