The mass shooting at the Allen Premium Outlets shopping center has left one store employee shaken and unable to forget the horrifying event or the bone-chilling sound of live gunfire.
Store employee Mireya Rodriguez was working there last Saturday when she heard the sudden and unmistakable “bang” of nearby gunshots.
“All of a sudden, I heard a noise. Immediately, I thought, ‘gun,'” she told NBC 5.
As previously reported by The Dallas Express, a 33-year-old gunman exited his vehicle outside the mall and began firing on people in the vicinity.
With a few seconds to act, Rodriguez rushed to get her coworkers into the store’s inventory closet, unsure if her decision was the safest choice.
“We could lock ourselves in the office. We could lock ourselves in the bathroom,” Rodriguez recalled. “It was just constantly thinking about if something happens next, what are we going to do in the span of seconds?”
While the group rationalized what to do or where to go next, Rodriguez texted her loved ones about the situation.
“shooting. at my job. we locked everyone in the back. like a lot of gunshots. a lot,” Rodriguez wrote in a string of text messages to her mom.
As previously reported in The Dallas Express, other mall employees stepped up to lead and protect their coworkers and customers, including mall security guard Christian LaCour, who the shooter ultimately killed.
After the authorities arrived and the gunshots had subsided, Rodriguez and her coworkers were escorted to safety.
“I had friends that were like, ‘We didn’t know you were alive for three hours,'” Rodriguez said.
The lingering psychological effects of that day have already started to manifest in Rodriguez’s day-to-day life.
“I still haven’t been able to shake the sound,” she told NBC 5.
“I just moved into an apartment and don’t even think I can hang the frames up. I don’t want to hear that kind of banging,” said Rodriguez, adding that school construction had recently made her shudder over the sound.
A memorial was held on Wednesday to remember those killed in Saturday’s deadly shooting. The vigil marked the first time Rodriguez had returned to Allen Premium Outlets since the mass shooting.
Returning to such a traumatic location was hard for her, but she said it felt like it was her duty to support the community and pay her respects. Rodriguez plans to return to work once the mall opens back up.