AUSTIN, Texas - The calls for help started coming in shortly before 10 Monday morning. Investigators say an armed gunman was inside the Home 2 Suites hotel in Round Rock’s La Frontera shopping complex and was allegedly threatening guests and staff members.
"He had a white shirt and a handgun on his right hand, on his side," said 12-year-old David Martinez.
Martinez spoke to FOX7 after providing a statement to investigators about his face-to-face with the gunman. He said he walked into the situation as he was getting a wagon, while his parents were in their room packing.
"He told me to get out that’s all he told me, go, get out," said David who added the man did not threaten to hurt him.
When Round Rock police arrived, Chief Allen Banks said his officers initially tried to get in from a side door by the pool, but couldn’t. "The concern that we had here was is this an active shooter or was it going to be an active shooter. The subject walked into the lobby of a business with a handgun, threatened people, caused people to flee, and also cause people to hide inside of their offices," said Chief Banks.
Three officers eventually got in from the front door, and that’s when Banks said they were confronted by the gunman.
"I was leashing my dogs up to take them for a walk and obviously stopped because of the ruckus right outside my door," said hotel guest Stacey Choate, who was in a room just down the hall from where the officers had their fatal confrontation.
When asked to describe what she heard, Choate said, "No shouts of order, it was an angry voice, and it sounded like he was yelling back at the lobby area, cause we’re just off the lobby, and then I heard three loud bangs."
Chief Banks said the gunman was shot and killed by one officer. All three were wearing body cameras which will be reviewed as well as video from hotel security cameras. "It was a very active and fluid situation responded and went in to make sure those folks that were trapped inside we’re not being harmed," said Chief Banks.
As Round Rock police secured the hotel, 12-year-old David was taken offsite. That separation was nerve-wracking according to his father. "We were FaceTiming him while he was over here at the bank , trying to get them inside and we were not allowed to come outside of our room, luckily they finally let us, they walked him into our room," said Jose Martinez.
There were other emotional embraces by hotel guests who had been cut off from their children For much of the morning witnesses waited in a parking lot to be interviewed by detectives
"It’s shocking, shocking to see this because there’s hardly any violence that I’ve heard of," said Liz Fuentes, a member of the cleaning crew who hadn't been on duty at the time, but drove to the hotel to make sure her coworkers were okay. "There’s a lot of people in and out and you never know, you never know who is going to be in and out in the scary."
As of Monday evening, investigators had not released the identity of the gunman or a possible motive. The three officers in the lobby at the time of the shooting have been placed on administrative leave, pending the outcome of the investigation.