WASHINGTON, DC (WLOX) - Tourists got more than they were expecting while visiting Capitol Hill on Monday.
Gretchen Gegenheimer and her family from Pearl River County were having lunch in the Visitor Center's cafeteria when chaos erupted.
"All of a sudden we heard yelling, 'get down, get down' and then everybody started crawling underneath the tables," said Gegenheimer. "So I laid myself on top of my kids to protect them. A few seconds or minutes later someone yelled 'run, run.' I told my kids to run and we went out of the cafeteria across to the theater. We ran over there and they locked us in there."
A man was shot by police after he reportedly walked into the underground U.S. Capitol Visitor Center and drew a weapon.
When Gegenheimer fled the cafeteria, she had to leave behind personal items. When we talked with her she didn't know when she would be able to go back in to pick them up.
"I left all of our things in there like camera, phones and things like that," said Gegenheimer. "They told us we would be able to get that stuff tomorrow or maybe the next day."
Gulfport's Mandi Pugh had just left the visitor center and was in the Capitol building. She said she didn't know what was happening when security placed the area she was in under lockdown.
"To be honest we thought maybe someone was coming through and maybe we were going to get to see the president or someone exciting," said Pugh. "We actually had no idea something bad was going on. They kept it very calm where we were at."
She didn't know what was happening until people started getting alerts on their phones.
"People's phones started going off with notifications of what was happening outside," said Pugh. "That's when we found out that there was a shooter outside."
When she entered the Visitor Center, Pugh wasn't concerned about her safety or alarmed by anything.
"We went through so many security systems," said Pugh. "We actually had to give up our food, our water. My husband carries a knife and they took that. Everything was taken, so they are very secure and they paid very close attention to everything that was happening."
The incident led to an hour-long lock down at the Capitol and the White House.