The Duquesne University’s women’s swimming team was inside the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in Florida on Friday when a gunmen opened fire, killing five people and wounding eight.
Duquesne Athletics confirmed via Twitter that all members were accounted for and safe, but WPXI learned some of the women are still stuck at the airport.
Michelle Heim, a junior at Duquesne University, remained in Florida on Friday night after speaking with investigators. She spoke with WPXI by phone and described the “mass chaos” that she watched unfold firsthand.
“I was sitting facing toward the window and behind me, I heard mass amounts of screaming and the sound of people running. I turned around, and there was a huge mob of people coming straight for me. And I ran immediately,” she said.
Heim said she wasn’t sure why everyone was running, but she said her instincts told her to go, so she ran down a hallway.
“I hit the emergency door, and it wouldn't open. The alarm just went off. A whole group of people just started slamming into the door and everyone was screaming, and we couldn't get it open,” she said. “A bunch of people were being trampled, and everyone was falling over and falling down the stairs. I managed to grab one little kid and a woman who was underneath everybody, and we all ran down the runway.”
Heim said she was one of three teammates in Terminal Two when the gunfire erupted. The swim team was in Florida for some training and was headed home.
PHOTOS: Fort Lauderdale airport shooting
Heim said the scene when she was allowed back inside the airport was unreal.
“It was really surreal — luggage everywhere, shoes and jackets all over the place,” she said.
Heim said she was only back at her gate for a few minutes when people started running again and she worried about where other teammates were.
“My one teammate was getting food and she had to hide underneath a table, and she heard the shots. Another teammate was pushed underneath the chairs in the waiting room,” she said.
Heim said while the shock is still settling in, she was lucky to get out as fast as she did.
“In the heat of the moment, you're so fueled by adrenalin that you don't realize what's happening, but then it all sinks in and you're standing outside waiting to figure out what happened. It's pretty terrifying,” she said.
The athletic director told WPXI that the plan is to have everyone back on campus Monday, where students impacted by the shooting will be able to get any counseling they may need.
All ladies safe and accounted for. Our prayers to the victims and their families.
A photo posted by Go Dukes (@duquesne_swimming) on
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