FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (WDBJ) -- A southwest Virginia mother and daughter were at the airport in Fort Lauderdale when the gunfire rang out, and they saw the gunman shooting.
Ruthie Bellman and her daughter, of Dublin, Virginia were traveling to Fort Lauderdale to go on a cruise. Bellman was waiting at the baggage claim when she heard what sounded like two pops.
“And I turned and saw him shooting and I hit the ground,” she said.
Bellman said active shooter training she underwent at work kicked in. She knew running would not save her, so she got on the ground and started praying.
“I was on the ground. Truly - I was crying out to Jesus to protect me and my daughter and everyone else. That's what I was doing,” Bellman said. “I didn't know where my daughter was I was pretty freaked out about that because she had gone away from me.”
She had no idea where her daughter, Rachel Carroll, was. The sophomore at New River Community College was at a Starbucks on the other side of the baggage claim area where she also heard gunfire.
“And I wasn't positive what it was and I turned and I looked and I turned saw the man, and I saw him with a gun. My instinct was to run the opposite way,” Carroll said.
Carroll was able to run outside to safety, but her mother was in the midst of the carnage.
“The lady sitting right next to me was shot in the head and I'm sure she died,” Bellman said. “I saw two of them that I'm pretty sure were dead.”
It took 15 minutes before mother and daughter knew they were both OK.
“I was terrified,” Bellman said.
After being interviewed by the FBI and police, they are both at a Florida hotel grateful they're alive.
“I'm just thankful that I have a great God who protected me and my mom,” Carroll said.
Bellman works as the Director of the Montgomery/Floyd Regional Library System and also works part-time at Warm Hearth Village.
Carroll is a sophomore studying education at New River Community College.