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‘It felt like we were in a war’: Eyewitnesses thankful to walk away from La. gun store shootout

Published: Feb. 21, 2021 at 12:06 AM CST
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METAIRIE, La. (WVUE) - They both walked into a concealed carry class without knowing each other, but now, Wanetta Joseph and Tyrone Russell say they’re both survivors after a shootout in a Louisiana gun store.

Reporter: “How many gunshots did you hear?”

Joseph and Russell: “It was a lot. It was a lot. You could tell it was a gunfight. Yeah, it was a gunfight. That’s all I knew.”

The Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office says an active shooter walked into the Jefferson Gun Outlet and started firing.

Three people, including the shooter, were killed. Two others were injured. Joseph and Russell say they were upstairs in the classroom with three instructors when they heard the shots downstairs.

“The whole ground was moving. It felt like they were going to shoot through the wall. You could smell the gun smoke. Yeah, you could smell the gun smoke through the floor. That’s how crazy it was. We felt like we were in a war,” they said.

They say one of the three instructors stayed behind to barricade and keep the class safe while people immediately starting dialing 911.

As they lay on the floor, hearing gunshots around them, they said they didn’t know if they were going to walk away alive.

“It was over. We thought we were over. We didn’t know if there were multiple gunmen. We didn’t know if the gunman was down. We had no idea what was going on,” Joseph said.

“It felt like something you see on TV, like with a mass shooting, stuff like that. I’m thinking they’re just gonna run-up in the classroom and shoot us, and that was going to be it… I was scared. My adrenaline was rushing. I was just hoping the police got here fast, and they got here as fast as possible, so I thank God,” Russell said.

Police did arrive on the scene in minutes, and one by one helped escort everyone inside out of the gunshot-ridden building.

“It appears that several individuals ended up engaging the original suspect with her inside the location or out here in the parking lot… The police came. We went downstairs. We’re going down there slowly. There was glass everywhere. It was a mess… I knew I parked in the front. I saw my car with bullet holes all in it. I saw a guy laid out, and I see people getting carted off or whatever, so it was a mess,” Russell said.

Walking away from an incident like that, Joseph says she finds it all the more reason to have a way to protect herself.

“It was painful to say the least, but it’s not something that I would ever want to go through again,” Joseph said.

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