WASHINGTON, D.C.-- Twelve Elon students experienced a close call after a potentially fatal shooting on Sunday night around 11:30 at the George Washington Center Residential & Academic Facility at NoMa.
According to senior Steven Armendariz, the building's fire alarm sounded shortly after 11:30 PM. Students began walking to the main stairwell in their building. He says he was one of the last people to leave his room and by the time he left, the stairwell was filled with students.
Upon arriving to the ground floor, he says he was a little more than a few feet away from the main entrance when students started screaming. He heard "there's a shooter" "there are gunshots", and "shooter is loose."
He describes the situation as "chaotic" and within seconds, students ran down the halls looking for a place to hide.
"As people started running, people were falling and tripping in the narrow hall," Armendariz said, "It was a stampede. Students started climbing onto other students, stepping on each other...to run to safety."
He said students hid in closets, rooms, and the basement and ran in all directions outside the building to escape the believed-to-be "active shooter."
"I ran to hide in the balcony and once I was up there, after seeing the horror of the stampede, I noticed that students were running behind the building and started climbing the fence that surrounded the building," Armendariz said.
Police officers arrived to the scene at an unknown time and word spread that the "active shooter" was actually a paintball gun shooter. According to NBC News 4 Washington, the driver was in a white Dodge Charger who drove by shooting as students were evacuating.
According to police, six students were struck by the paint balls and three had visible injuries, but refused medical assistance. The car immediately fled the scene, which classifies the incident as a simple assault.
Armendariz said that some students were hurt from climbing over the fence as well as running and falling, saying many students had called the police and their parents.
"Students [thought] that last night was going to be the last night of their lives," Armendariz said.
He said he is concerned about the lack of organization for emergency plan from the program.
"Last night I was up until 3 AM helping my friends and looking at all the injuries inflicted while running, hiding, jumping the fence, or ducking in the concrete," Armendariz said, "One student got hit in the eye with paintball, other in arm, and so on."
In light of this summer's many tragedies, Armendariz says non-Elon students are leaving the program two weeks early in order to protect their safety.
The Washington Center administrators said in a statement that they are increasing security and "referring students to professional counselors as needed."
Police are unsure if the attack was random and the incident is under investigation.