News & Politics

I Was at the Montgomery Mall During the Shooting. This Is What It Was Like Inside.

Photograph by iStock.

The buzz started in the aisles at Nordstrom in Westfield Montgomery Mall at 11:30 AM. Shoppers started getting messages on their phones that there were police outside. Then the gates to the mall’s doors went down. We were still not sure what was going on. Salespeople seemed as baffled as shoppers. Then the gates to the parking lots went down.

The background music piped into the store stopped. We heard an announcement that there was an active shooter in the area and we should stay where we were. We were offered cups of water. The store sent staff around to ask if we were okay. Some people kept shopping. The cafe filled—many of us decided that if we couldn’t go anywhere, we might as well eat.

One person was fatally shot and two more were wounded in the mall’s parking lot, according to Montgomery County Police. Officers later arrested Eulalio Tordil, 62, who was also a suspect in a shooting Thursday at High Point High School in Beltsville that killed his estranged wife, Gladys Tordil, and another earlier Friday morning at a Giant supermarket in the Aspen Hill neighborhood that left one woman dead.

I don’t know what the scene inside Nordstrom says about Washingtonians in 2016, but there was no panic during the lockdown, which seems to be an increasingly normal part of life. I saw many diners checking their phones for updates.

An hour later, staff circulated in the cafe to tell us the store gates were now open, and I left. I didn’t see a frantic rush for the exit.