When an armed man opened fire inside the Mayfair Mall in Wauwatosa on Friday afternoon, injuring seven adults and a teenager, shoppers and workers heard gunshots.
Many people ran from the building, some screamed; others found places to hide.
When the news came about the shooting, worried families and friends gathered in the parking lot of the mall to wait for their loved ones.
Here are stories from some of the witnesses:
More: Shooting in Mayfair Mall leaves 8 wounded; the police are looking for shooting games
Woman, 79-year-old mother, fell to the floor inside Macy’s
Jill Whitfield-Wooley was inside Macy’s with her 79-year-old mother when she said she heard eight to 12 shots coming from inside the mall.
The two fell to the ground for a moment and then ran in the opposite direction.
“Unfortunately, we have all thought about what we would do in that situation. Unfortunately, it kicked in and we came to a safe place, ”she said.
When they came out of the mall, Whitfield-Wooley said her mother was shaken and police gave her a blanket.
“All of this has not sunk in completely yet,” she said. “I think there’s a certain shock going on.”
Woman who served in the military for 15 years counts shooting as her most frightening experience
Gloria Hall said she was on the second floor of the Mayfair mall with her niece when she heard a “pow, pow, pow, pow, pow.”
“I’m like, it sounds like shots,” Hall said.
“We look up, we see people running, little kids crying, people pushing their strollers,” she said. “We were all scared of ourselves.”
She stayed at the back of the ROSE store for hours while police searched for the shooter. The manager locked the doors and turned off the lights.
“We just sat together on the floor and prayed,” she said.
“It was the scariest experience of my entire life,” she said. “I spent 15 years in the military, but it was scary.”
PacSun employee reunites with mom after four hours locked inside store
Bayden Stoltenberg-Willis worked at PacSun when he saw people running through the mall.
He heard or saw nothing at first, but someone told him there was a shooting.
“There was a customer walking in the middle of the mall, and I shouted, ‘Come here,'” Stoltenberg-Willis said. “He came in. We locked the doors, turned off all the lights and just waited.”
Stoltenberg-Willis and four other people waited for nearly four hours until they heard police arriving at the store.
“They took care of us, which was appreciated,” Stoltenberg-Willis said.
His mother, Rebekah Stoltenberg, was nearby at a doctor’s office when she noticed police activity and quickly called him. He spent hours talking to his parents and friends and telling them he was okay.
Stoltenberg-Willis and others were taken by the Milwaukee County Transit System bus to At Home, which is home decor one mile away from the mall that served as the official reunion site.
When he got off the bus, his mother was waiting. She ran to him and jumped into his arms.
“I’m fine,” Stoltenberg-Willis said in her ear.
Mother and son feel lucky.
“I have him, I can breathe a little easily, but there are people who are not in our situation,” Stoltenberg said. “Our prayers are with them.”
19-year-old in food court heard gunshots, ran out quickly
Morgan Ivy, a 19-year-old from Oak Creek, was eating at the dinner with many families with children when she heard eight shots.
They sounded like “fireworks,” she said. “Everyone just started running and screaming.”
Ivy saw people running down escalators. She ran too.
When she came out outside, it was quiet for a moment. Then police cars began to arrive. She safely got back to her car and called her mother to tell her she was fine.
She feels “lucky” that she got out of the mall as soon as she did. She often goes to the mall after finishing work at a nearby dentist’s office and had just sat down with her food.
Everything worked normally until the shots rang out, she said.
Women’s screens in the back room for hours
Cecilia Guerrero, 20, of West Milwaukee, covered in a back room inside the OFFLINE of the Aerie store with her sister, Anahi, a family of three and four business partners.
Guerrero said she had been in the locked room since about 2:50 p.m., and was still inside hours later.
“It was very scary,” Guerrero said. “I was very nervous at first when we did not know what was going on. But now that I’m safe and no one can come in, I’m okay. But it was very freaky and there was some panic.”
In the chaos, she was separated from her partner, who was originally drawn by someone else into Nordstrom, but eventually did so outside.
Guerrero said even though these shootings are “more common,” she did not think it would happen there.
Father reassured daughter hiding in the hallway
Steven Humphrie jumped into protection mode when his 21-year-old daughter Nadia called him from work and said there was a shot in the mall.
“I asked her to stay low and hide until I got there,” Humphrie said. “I could hear the shots. I just left.”
When Humphrie arrived at the mall, his daughter called FaceTime. She hid in a hallway with others.
“There were a lot of people in the hallway,” Humphrie said.
Shopper entering mall, warned of shooting by woman running out of doors
Samantha Paul, 24, had just walked through the second set of doors to Mayfair when a stranger grabbed his arm and said, “Leave. There’s a shooting game.”
“I was shaking and crying, and I was still crying,” Paul said. “I’m so grateful she grabbed me.”
As soon as she started running, she said it looked like hundreds of people were running towards their cars, many trying to escape. Some shouted at police officers to ask what happened.
“I was scared,” she said.
“I never thought I would be in this situation,” she said. “I love Mayfair. Even with the protests, I still felt comfortable going there. (Now), I do not want to go there alone again. It was scary that this happened at 3pm.”
Man working at kiosk shot in the leg
Waseem Dilshad said his uncle was working in a kiosk near Macy’s when he was shot in the leg twice.
Dilshad’s cousin also worked at the kiosk and saw the shooting happen. He was on the phone with Dilshad at the time.
“He started cursing and shouting and said, ‘I want to call you, there’s blood everywhere,'” Dilshad said.
His uncle was taken to Froedtert Hospital and was not in critical condition. His cousin remained inside the mall, Dilshad said shortly before noon
Board game store owner helped injured
Gordon Lugauer was in the back office of his Board Game Barrister store when he heard gunshots.
It was “sudden and abrupt,” he said.
He returned to the front of the store, where his staff and about half a dozen customers had fallen to the floor.
No one inside was injured, but he saw several people injured outside his store on the first floor of the mall near Macy’s. And bullets damaged his storefront.
A person who had been waiting to enter the store due to rules of social distance was shot in the leg. Lugauer and his staff helped the injured man into the store waiting for paramedics.
Evan Casey, Sarah Hauer, Ricardo Torres, Christopher Kuhagen and Cathy Kozlowicz from the Journal Sentinel staff contributed to this report.
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