CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - A Maryland family is giving their thanks to construction workers who they say got them to safety after they escaped from a downtown Charleston restaurant where a man armed with a gun told patrons,"There's a new boss in town."
Amy Sloan, who's visiting from Maryland, was in Virginia's having lunch with her son when the suspect came into the restaurant armed with a gun.
"We didn't know what was happening, and the man that we now know as the shooter came from the back and said, 'There's a new boss in town,' Sloan said.
"I'm so shocked it happened," said Sloan's son, James Siegert."I thought it was just going to be a nice day and all of the sudden I was threatened [with death]."
According to Sloan, the suspect then went to the front door, and it was at that point, Sloan could see the man holding a gun
"He turned around, then he told us to get on the ground," Sloan said."He probably repeated it two or three times."
Sloan said she initially thought it was a joke until she saw the gun.
"At this point it was very clear it was a very scary situation," Sloan said. "He told us to get out from the back."
Sloan and her son said they along with other family members then ran from the restaurant and were separated.
However, construction workers came to their rescue and guided them to a nearby hotel.
"Construction workers totally took care of us and took us to the hotel for safety," Sloan said.
They were then reunited with the rest of the family including Siegert's grandmother who was in tears when she saw them.
"For me as a mom, obviously I was concerned most with my son and so I was pushing him forward as much as I could to get him out first," Sloan said.
She said she took some comfort that she and her family were not taken hostage.
Sloan says she and her family are "very saddened" with the loss of life; police say one person died in the incident.
Other patrons said they also expected to sit down at the restaurant to enjoy lunch.
They had no idea they would barely escape with their lives.
"[He] came through the back and said ,'There's a new boss in town,'" said Tia Rosene who grabbed her belongings and left the restaurant.
"All of a sudden an older gentleman came waking out from the back with a gun in his hand and told us to get on the floor," said Bill Rosene."We scrambled to get on the floor and then he said,'No, go to the back, go to the back.'"
Pete Siegert Sr. was also in the restaurant and said he had been through similar circumstances before which helped him.
"I've been through three robberies," Siegert said."I work at a bank so I've had people take guns and shove them in my face before. But he had a 22 caliber. It's still not safe to be around because you never know what will happen"