Student: 'All I saw was the flash of shooting'

Tribune staff reporter

Jillian Martinez, a Northern Illinois University freshman from Carpentersville, said she was sitting at the back of the Cole Hall auditorium in an ocean science class when the gunman entered the room about 3 p.m..

"There's this door in the lecture hall nobody ever goes through," at the front right side of the hall near the lecturer's podium, Martinez said. "I remember seeing it open, and thought it was weird that somebody had opened the door. All of a sudden, there was someone standing there."

"All I saw was the flash of shooting," she continued. "He pulled out his gun. He just started shooting at all the kids. He just started shooting at people, and I ran out of there as fast as I could. I ran all the way to the student center; when I got there I could still hear shooting [from the classroom]."

Martinez described a panicked scene as students ran from the classroom.

"Everyone started rushing for doors. Everybody fell over everybody," she said. "I fell over a couple times. People were trying to get out and screaming. It was really awful."

Martinez said the assailant was a white man and he was carrying a large gun.

"It was really loud. He just started shooting at the middle of the crowd," she said. "I booked it out of there as fast as I could."

After reaching the student center, Martinez called her parents, who were on the way to campus to pick her up Thursday afternoon.

"I could tell that my mom was trying not to freak out. She was trying to keep me calm since I was pretty much in hysterics," she said.

Martinez doesn't know when she will return to the campus.

"Honestly I don't know when I'm going to come back," she said. "I'm packing up as much as I can right now because I'm scared; I don't know about next year, I don't want to deal with this any more."

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