Some neighbors like Laura Marie, a University of District of Columbia student from France, described the afternoon as chaos.
“I went to the window, and I saw a police officer hiding behind cars with big guns,” Marie recalls. “That was just so scary and we closed the door. We put the table on the door like we were getting crazy, very stressful.”
Many residents that reporter Katie Rhee spoke with thought the first round of gunfire was the construction next door, but then realized what was unfolding.
“When I heard it the first time, I didn’t think nothing about it. So I was just inside chilling,” AVA Van Ness resident Anthony Willis explained. “Then I heard it again so I went out on the balcony and I heard a brrrrrrrrrrrt.”
Marie was home when the first round of shots rang out and was initially told to shelter in place in her apartment.
“They knocked very strong at the door and say, ‘Police, it’s the police. Let us go in.’ So we opened the door and like six police officers were pointing guns at us and we were just like this, [with our hands up],” Marie explained.
Then Marie and her roommate had to evacuate the building, accompanied by armed police officers. She explained that she and her roommate were patted down by police and then had to run down 7 flights of stairs with their hands up.
Josh Magnuss had to evacuate from the building with his dog, Jezze, who is also still skittish from the incident. He explained after he heard the gunfire, he barricaded his door in an effort to protect him and his dog. Then, after SWAT entered the building to evacuate it, they made him exit his apartment holding Jezze before escorting him out.
“I walk out holding her, they take her away for a second so they can pat me down. Then next thing I know I’m walking through all the stairwells and there’s an armed person on every floor of a stairwell,” Magnuss explained. “Because I didn’t have my arms up because I was walking my dog, they yelled, “Dog!” every time we come down a level.”
Anthony Willis and his grandmother were initially given the option to shelter in place or evacuate but chose to stay put until later in the night. Willis says he had never seen the shooter around the apartment building prior to Friday.
“Well, I was like scared because like, it was like close by too,” Willis said. “Someone said that he came in, like running into the building and onto the fifth floor. I’m always at work so I don’t run into nobody.”
While many say Van Ness is normally a safe neighborhood, others are still scared to be out and about in their own neighborhood.
“I’m a little numb to it because I just think that anytime, anywhere, anyplace anyone can start firing, you know?” Manguss said. “I’ve never been part of a shooting but enough in my life. I’ve seen you know, places I’ve been that you would never suspect.”
Neighbors say they’re going to have more conversations about what happened as well as the uptick in crime around the area to make sure something like this doesn’t happen again.