Witnesses describe ’15 minutes of terror’ inside Illinois bowling alley with gunman

Crime & Safety

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Some of those inside an Illinois bowling alley Saturday when a gunman opened fire say they hid while fearing for their lives.

“It was just 15 minutes of terror,” said witness Matthew Rider.

He and Amanda Hollenbeck said they will never forget the moment they almost lost their lives at Don Carter Lanes, where three people were killed and three others were wounded in the shooting.

“The first shot went off and then you heard the other three rounds and it was like right then and there it set in for everyone, ‘We got to hide,’ and as we were hiding, the shots got closer and closer,” said Hollenbeck.

While hiding, the couple called 911.

“We were hiding behind a wooden crate, there was no bullet protection. We were hiding but, you know, people were screaming, people were crying,” Rider explained. “By this point in time, the second or third round of shots had gone off already. He had started to fire multiple times five to six rounds at a time. It had to be between a dozen to two dozen shots in total the entire evening.”

Fearing the worst, the couple began calling their loved ones.

“While he was shooting, I was on the phone with my mom. I was like ‘Mom, I love you. There’s an active shooter. I gotta go, but I want you to know I love you,'” Hollenbeck said.

They said scenes from the shooting will always be imprinted in their memory .

“There was blood going all the way out to the parking lot,” Hollenbeck said.

“There was a dead body right on the top of the stairs,” Rider said, with Hollenbeck adding, “We had to walk right past it.”

The couple said they will forever be thankful to all of the first responders.

“The second I saw a police officer, I knew we were going to be okay. They did their jobs and they did it well. I cannot stress it enough,” Rider said. “They saved our lives.”

Duke Webb, 37, a U.S. Army special forces sergeant based in Florida, has been charged with three counts of murder and three counts of first-degree attempted murder in the apparently random shooting, authorities said Sunday.

Jerome Woodfork

Jamarrion Simmons said his friend Jerome Woodfork was one of the victims who died. He said he is devastated by the loss.

Simmons said Woodfork was an avid bowler in the Rockford community and was a regular at Don Carter Lanes.

He described Woodfork as compassionate and caring.

“Jerome was a legend, he was a friend to everybody, he was loved, he was respected, and he was somebody everybody wanted to be like,” Simmons said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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