“Shock.” “I can’t believe it happened here.” “I’m worried about my co-workers.”
Those thoughts ran through the mind of a Cummins Seymour Engine Plant employee Thursday as she stood on a sidewalk several blocks away holding an umbrella after being told to leave the building.
It wasn’t a fire alarm or a weather warning. It was because of an active shooter in the Seymour Technical Center, which sits in front of the Cummins plant along East Fourth Street in Seymour.
“It’s more about now just making sure everybody’s safe and out and that everybody’s OK,” the woman said.
Since she first thought it was a fire drill, she just grabbed her umbrella and her cellphone and headed outside. Then she was told it wasn’t a drill. There was an active shooter, and employees needed to get as far away from the facility as possible.
Workers were found standing in front of homes along Third Street and walking down nearby streets. Soon, they were told to congregate under the shelter house at Shields Park a few blocks away so they could stay dry from the rain.
Many people were on their cellphones calling loved ones to let them know they were OK. But most of them didn’t know the details about what had happened.
“The biggest thing is I’m just worried about my co-workers,” the woman said. “I have some friends that are in the tech center, and I’ve not been able to get ahold of them. I’m a little worried.”
Also walking down Third Street was a man who was on a sales call at the Seymour Engine Plant when the incident occurred. It was his first time at the plant.
“I never heard the alarm until we got out of the conference room we were in, taking notes on what we came across as far as our tooling,” the man said.
He was then told to get out of the building.
“It’s one of those things, when it’s happening, you don’t realize what’s actually going on, if it’s serious or not,” he said. “Once you get evacuated and you start seeing police and stuff like that, it’s kind of a moment where you’re left going, ‘Wow! This is real, not a drill.’”
Standing among the group of employees under the shelter house at Shields Park was a Seymour man who has worked at Cummins for 16 years.
He said he has gone through fire and tornado drills before. The fire drill was put into use a few years ago when he said there was a fire at the plant.
But he said he has never gone through an active-shooter drill.
“I was in my own little area in the middle of the plant,” he said. “I just happened to turn around and see people yelling and everybody running, and I’m like, ‘Wow! Somebody must have gotten hurt or something.’”
Then a supervisor for the area came running toward him and told him to get out of the building.
“It wasn’t until I actually got outside of the building and I heard somebody say the word ‘active shooter’” that he realized what was going on, he said.
The man said he’s not a person who typically “freaks out” about situations, but he was curious as to who the shooter was and if it’s someone he knew.
There was just a lot of unknown.
“The very few times I’ve been in a (similar) situation, it’s like slow motion, kind of,” he said. “Maybe it registers. Maybe it doesn’t.”