(WASHINGTON) — Before Terry Durham could even see the gunman’s face, she could see the barrel of his rifle aimed straight at her.
“He was far enough down the hall, that we couldn’t see his face,” Durham told ABC News affiliate WJLA-TV. “But we could see him with the rifle, and he raised and aimed at us and he fired.”
Durham and her colleagues at the Washington Naval Yard were just settling into their desks on an otherwise sleepy Monday morning when they heard three distinctive “pops,” gunshots, growing increasingly louder and closer.
They ran into a darkened hallway on the third floor of Building 197, turned a corner and were confronted with a man in fatigues carrying a long gun.
The shooter fired on them but missed, hitting “high on the wall” above their heads.
At least 12 people, including a gunman, died in the carnage.
Witnesses describe a scene of chaos cascading through the floors of the building, as co-workers hearing sounds of gunfire helped each other to take shelter or flee the building.
“We heard what sounded like muffled gun shots inside, and then we had a person telling us to get out of building,” said Tim Jirus, a U.S. Navy commander.
As Jirus was evacuating, he heard two gunshots.
“I looked at the direction where the gun shots were coming from. I looked down, and the guy next to me (who) was standing talking to me, was down in front of me on the ground,” he told WJLA. “I feel very lucky to be alive… [the] guy next to me got shot and I didn’t.”
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Sara Ashley O'Brien, CNN
Stephanie Halasz, Jason Hanna and Livia Borghese, CNN
Jacqueline Howard, CNN
Lisa Respers France, CNN