16 Sep 13

It was my husband’s first day of work at the Pentagon, so I took the early shuttle so we could ride in together. A quick peck & “I love you,” as he got off the metro and I continued on to my stop.

It was a nice day out, so I decided to walk the ½ mile from the metro to the WNY gate. I logged into the app on my phone to start tracking my distance. On my way, I was posting photos & videos from the puppy pool party my apartment hosted the day before. They’ve been doing some work on the sidewalk, so by the time I got to that point, I was more cautious and paying attention to where I was stepping. Of course, once I successfully maneuvered past the broken sidewalk, graceful as ever, I tripped over my flip-flop only about 20 feet from my destination! The guy in front of me turned around and gave me a funny look … I acted like nothing happened, even though we both knew it was me that tripped!

I got to the pedestrian gate, and there was a man in a grey suit that had apparently asked the guard for directions. As the guard was directing him where to go on the map, he would do a quick twist to check the ID of each person walking in, then twist back to resume giving directions. I continued to walk past the on-going construction on Isaac Hull and took a quick glance in the back door entrance to see if there were any empty cell phone lockers … it was full. I only got a few more steps, just a couple feet from the steps to the main entrance of building 197, when I noticed everyone stopping dead in their tracks. It was revile. There I stood, slightly at attention, while trying to pause my walking app so the clock would stop ticking as I was standing in place. Revile ended and I proceeded up the steps and through the glass doors.

I quickly put my phone on airplane mode, stuck it in locker A-54, dropped the key in my purse and scanned my CAC as I walked through security. I vaguely remember glancing over at Mike – he worked the security desk at the main entrance – but for the life of me, I honestly don’t know if I said good morning to him. I went up the “Gone With the Wind” staircase (as my boss called it), went through the double doors and headed toward the 00D office suite. I cringe and brace myself in an effort not to flinch as I walk past those damn uniformed mannequins tucked in the little nooks in the hallway – I hate those guys! I think to myself, the first thing I’m going to do when I get in is grab Bryan to go with me to get some coffee – caramel macchiato, yum! I make my entrance and peek over at his desk, only to find that he hasn’t arrived yet … I wasn’t used to getting there so early! I rounded the corner, noticing that nobody was really around yet. I got to my cubicle, dropped my bags on my desk and started logging into my computer.

I heard three loud noises coming from the atrium, but just assumed it was from the construction, or maybe they were moving furniture for a ceremony or something. I remember saying aloud, “man, they’re really making a racket out there.” As I’m talking to myself, I suddenly hear Brittany swearing worse than a Sailor. “Damn Brittany, such profanity!” I jokingly hollered at her through my cubby wall. She comes running around the corner, eyes wide open, when she says, “Someone yelled shots fired! Did you hear that?!” “I heard the noise, then I heard someone’s voice, but I couldn’t make out what he said,” I replied to her as calm as ever. We both walk into Pat’s office to report what we just heard. “Are you serious?” Pat replies in her calm, matter-of-fact tone of voice. I wish we weren’t serious. The fire alarm starts to sound … “An emergency has been reported. Please exit the building.” EXIT the building?!

Pat tells us, “Stay here, let me see what’s going on,” as she comes out of her office and makes her way to the glass double door entrance to our spaces. Thinking, at the time, that the worst was over and we’d likely be forced to stay in the office until they cleared the area, I started to follow her to the doors. Before we could reach the main doorway, I heard the wood-framed glass doors slam shut, while the others in the office were rushing back in. I could see the urgency in their eyes, and heard the fear in their breathing. It was at that moment, the seriousness of the situation finally hit me.

I stood there, trying to hold it together … my heart is racing, I can’t stop shaking, I’m tearing up and finding it hard to breathe. What do we do? … Where do we go? Dave sees me from the other side of the doorway, apparently looking like I’m about to have a complete breakdown. He does a quick glance to make sure it’s safe to cross, and comes over to me. “Jenn, you need to calm down,” he orders to me – we were both Navy, so at that moment, I could tell he was talking to me as my Senior Chief. “I’m trying to keep it together,” I whisper to him through my tears and shaking voice.

I couldn’t believe what was happening. I could barely blink. My anxiety is getting increasingly worse, so I’m trying to take deep breaths to try to stay calm. I rush back to my desk, grab my bags and my blackberry, pull my badge from the computer and go straight to Pat’s office – one of only two areas that has a “real” wall and a solid door. I find a spot on the floor and start trying to reach my husband, Justin. The fire alarm is still blaring, directing people to exit the building.

8:19am –  I send a text to his cell phone: “shots fired – we r on lock down”

I keep checking my phone for his reply … no response. I knew he wouldn’t get it because he has no signal in the Pentagon. Or did he say he’d been in training all day? I hated that I didn’t know how to reach him.

8:26am – I send a message to Bryan on facebook: Where r u? Shots fired! We r on lock down”

I can’t sit still … nobody can. Is this really happening? Pat and I were in her office, while the rest of the PA staff was scattered between the back wall – overlooking Isaac Hull – and James’ office (the other office with a “real” door and wall). At some point, another announcement is made over the wailing fire alarm: “Shelter in place. Stay where you are.” Chris pokes his head in Pat’s office to give us an update – I think he had just gotten off the phone with Alan. He peeks out the window through the mini-blinds, and I do the same … there are three or four law enforcement officers, slightly crouched behind a vehicle with giant guns pointed right toward the building. I see a woman lean against the entrance to the parking garage as two people – I think both in NWUs (aka: blueberries) – catch her before she collapses. (I later learned, this was one of the victims who was shot in the shoulder)

In an effort to help calm my nerves, Brittany tells me, “I’ve thought all this through … we just need to start grabbing furniture and stacking it against the door, then all of us pile into Pat and James’ offices.” I wish it was that simple … but it wasn’t.

8:31am – I try calling Justin’s cell phone … maybe he didn’t feel the text if it’s on vibrate? I leave a vmail: “….. “

Although I work with these people every day, I’ve really only been working in the office for about a month. It wasn’t like at the VA, where I made some very close friends over the last five years. I felt completely alone … isolated from everyone I know and love. I just wanted someone to come sit with me … hold me … cry with me. In a panic because I can’t reach Justin, I just needed to let someone … anyone know what was happening.

8:34am – I send a text to Megan (she works at National Ballpark next door): “shots fired – we r on lock down”

8:35am – She immediately replies: “Wow!! Everything ok??”

8:37am – I text back: “No!!!!!! I can’t reach Justin – we r all cowering on floor in office”

8:38am – Megan: “OMG! Is Justin at the pentagon today?”

8:38am – I respond: “keep hearing more shots”

I’m on my knees … hands clenched, rocking forward and back … shaking … crying … begging … pleading … “God, please let me get out of here!”

8:40am – Megan: “Keep huddled together with your co-workers!”

8:41am – Megan: “Is your office closed, are there doors you can close?”

8:41am – I text my friend Luz back home: “shots fired – we r on lock down”

8:42am – Luz: “OMG!!” … “Outside?”

8:44am – I reply to Megan: “Yes but made of glass!! We r all against back wall”

8:45am – I respond to Luz: “No INside!!! I can’t reach Justin – trying to keep it together”

8:45am – Megan: “Is it someone who works there?”

8:45am – I reply to Megan: “Idk we don’t know anything”

8:46am – Megan: “It’s finally scrolling across the local tv stations. Have you gotten ahold of Justin?”

I tell Pat that it’s now being reported on local TV stations, and she starts searching the web.

8:47am – Luz: “Oh shit ok try to keep calm sweetie. U want me to text him?”

8:47am – I respond to Luz: “I’ve been trying – he’s at pentagon”

8:47am – I reply to Megan: “No I can’t reach him” … “He’s at pentagon today so no signal & idk his office nbr”

8:48am – Megan: “Can you email him?”

8:49am – Luz: “Does he have a desk phone?”

At this point, I start trying to find a phone number for the program he’s working with.

8:51am – I call the number listed on the APH website … it goes straight to vmail

8:53am – Megan: “They’re reporting live from there are you guys still ok?”

I find a general number for the Pentagon …

8:55am – I speak with an operator at the Pentagon and ask to be transferred to someone in the APH program office … waiting for her to locate a number … she transfers me, and once again … I get vmail

8:56am – Luz: “U there?”

8:57am – I reply to Luz: “Yeah sitting in office blind – it’s all over local news”

8:57am – I text Megan: “Still sitting blind in office”

8:57am – I call the Pentagon operator again … I explain that this is an emergency situation and I cannot be sent to another voicemail, but I need to speak with someone who can relay a message to my husband … she asks if everything is ok … I tell her “there’s an active shooter in my building and I can’t reach my husband” … she transfers me to a different number … I get vmail again

8:58am – Megan: “Stay safe!! I just texted Justin on the off chance he could get it”

9:00am – Megan: “Did you get ahold of your mom?”

9:01am – I reply: “No way not going there” – I didn’t see the point in getting my family all worked up, knowing there’s nothing they could do. I guess I just “knew” I’d be able to contact them once this was all over …

9:02am – Megan: “She won’t hear? My friend at the Bucs texted me bc she heard on the Kane show on the radio”

9:02am – Luz: “Yeah I looked it up. They said at least one person was injured and they r still looking for the gunman”

9:03am – Megan: “We’re on lockdown”

Meanwhile, Pat is at her desk, typing up our accountability list and preparing an email to blast to the PAO community. The phone rings … it’s Brie letting us know that her and Cindy are together at NAVFAC.

9:04am – I receive a call from a 571 number, but I’m shaking and crying so bad that I accidentally hang up when I try to answer it … please let it be Justin

9:04am – I call the number back … someone from the APH program answers “Yeah, your husband was trying to call you … he just walked out with his cell phone though so I think he’s gonna try you back”

9:05am – Justin calls … I could finally breathe

9:07am – I text Megan & Luz: “He just called me”

9:07am – Megan: “That’s good!!”

9:08am – Pat has me ask Megan: “What channel was reporting live?”

9:08am – Luz: “Ok good. U doin ok?”

9:09am – I reply to Luz: “Yeah still active shooter tho”

9:09am – Luz: “Oh damn”

9:10am – Megan: “They all are now. Was CBS now ABC”

Sometime after that last text, all I could hear were sirens, helicopters and the fire alarm. Pat and I were the only ones in her office now. Suddenly, we here a commotion right outside the double doors. Someone was trying to bust the doors open!

I was terrified. We were completely blind to what was happening just on the other side of the wall. Did the shooter finally make it to our office and was now trying to force his way in? I hear a loud bang, then a man’s voice yelling, “Put your hands up! Put your hands up!” Oh my God, the shooter is here! Pat and I stayed in her office, her solid wood door was left wide open. I couldn’t make myself small enough to hide or to move any further away from what was happening. We stayed quiet, and just listened …

It was suddenly silent. Pat gestures to me to stay back, as she slowly moves closer to the door to catch a glance at what was out there. Everyone was gone. She looks at me and says, “That must have been SWAT coming to get us … we need to go … now.” With every ounce of courage I had left in me, I grabbed my things, grabbed Pat’s glasses, and we started creeping into the main office area. We were both being as quick and quiet as possible … but now that we’re out, what next? I was crouched behind the cubicle beside my own desk, when I peeked up for a quick second and saw the top of a navy blue baseball cap run across. Was it him?! Should I stay quiet to not bring attention to myself? What if it is SWAT? What do I do?

Before I could answer any of my internal thoughts, Pat starts waiving her arms and yelling, “We’re here! We’re in here!” I suddenly found myself face-to-face with the barrel of a very large gun. I was frozen. Terrified. At that moment, I felt the terror of fearing for my life. “Let me see your hands!” he yelled. I was on my knees. I threw my hands out on the floor in front of me and ducked my head down – like child’s pose in yoga. “Did you see where he went?” he shouted. “No, I didn’t’ see anything!” I replied. “Let’s go … keep your hands where I can see them,” he says to me in a softer, more comforting tone.

I struggle to get up, without moving my hands from his sight. “Ok, follow me,” he orders, as we being toward the double doors. As I reached the double doors, I realize they still had not identified the shooter (or shooters) and nobody knew where he was. He was still loose in the building. In order to get out, we had to use the walkway which overlooks the atrium. It was now or never. “Just go with this officer,” he tells me as he nudges me out the door and into the open walkway.

I went to the officer as directed, who then pointed to another officer about 10 feet away. They lined our path to exit, stopping me at the end of each cubicle so they could do a visual check before giving me the all-clear to run across. It was so surreal … it was unfolding like a movie, except I wasn’t just watching, I was in it. I finally made it to the far back corner and saw the exit sign ahead. An officer manning the door to the stairwell gestures for me to come to him. I’m running down the stairs as fast as possible, to where I think I may have passed our uniformed escort – which I quickly realized when I made it to the last flight and had more guns pointed right at me. “Two civilians coming down!” the officer yelled. They immediately dropped their guns and waived us to the door.

An officer tells me, “You see that man behind the mailbox over there?” I nod. “Go to him,” he orders. Finally, I’m out! I’m safe … or so I thought. I started to trot across the street to the mailbox, when I hear a voice behind me shout, “You need to run!” and I saw the man at the mailbox signaling for me to run faster. I get to the mailbox. “Ok, you see that guy over there?” as he points in the distance. I nod. “Now go to him,” he orders. I ran as fast as I possibly could. The only sound I could hear now, was the sound of my own breathing. I was running on the sidewalk, almost to the uniform at the end of the street, when he starts waiving his hand for me to hurry up. He gestured for me to run diagonally to the opposite corner. I don’t know why, but I was stuck on running to the crosswalk and then crossing over. I finally see someone from my office, Guy. I ran to catch up with him. “Hey, it’s ok. We’re out. You’re fine,” he tells me. “Where is everyone?” I ask in a panic. “They’re all right over here,” he said calmly, as he put his arm around my shoulder and walked with me the rest of the way to find them.

9:19am – I send a text to my parents: “Checking in to let you know I’m ok – still on going – swat just escorted us out of bldg at gunpoint – I’m w my office staff & cops – still on base”

9:22am – Megan: “Are you still not knowing what’s going on??”

9:23am – I respond: “No idea! Still on going – swat just escorted us out of bldg at gunpoint – I’m w my office staff & cops – still on base”

9:23am – Megan: “That’s good you’re out!!”

9:27am – I post to facebook: We r now outside the bldg – still on going”

9:27am – Megan: “I heard there was someone shot at the CVS and Starbucks corner, at M and NJ”

 

……… to be continued at a later time …

 

“Oh Baby!”

Now offering “Oh Baby!” packages …

  • Belly shoots (we’re talkin’ maternity, not beer!)
  • Newbies (infants up to 3mo)
  • Milestones (includes: 3mo/6mo/1y)
  • Combo packages at an additional discount!

Here are a few samples from my most recent shoot …

 

Hi!

 

Little Bundle

Thanks for taking the time to visit!  

 

Holiday & Family Sessions

Posted December 6, 2011
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Feliz Navidad!

Shining Star

Nobody's Watching

Lucky Girl

Now shooting Boudoir sessions!

Posted January 25, 2011
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Here’s a “blog-friendly” sample from some recent boudoir sessions …

Scarlet Mistress

 

40 & Fabulous!

Album Shoot @ Baywalk

Posted December 8, 2010
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They’ll be coming out with their sophomore album and plan to use the photos for the artwork on the album cover & CD insert booklet … check it out:

Trying new stuff …

Posted November 25, 2010
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I did a maternity shoot with my friend Alice … we were just in her spare room, w/ sheets up on the wall … all photos were in color, but this was one of my favorites, so I wanted to play around with PhotoShop … took me a while, but finally figured out how to achieve this technique … check it out!! : )

Here are some of my other favorites from the shoot:

I actually had 2 photo shoots that day, so there’s still more to come!

As always, I encourage and welcome your feedback and comments.

Thanks for visiting : )

Florida High Schools Compete for NJROTC Title

Posted October 31, 2010
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Photo & story published on Navy News Stand … click image or link to view:

101016-N-7361H-004 NEW PORT RICHEY, FL (Oct 16, 2010) - Navy Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps (NJROTC) students from Lemon Bay High School are judged by Sailors and Midshipmen during the sit-up competition at the 3rd annual Mitchell Mustang Stampede at J. W. Mitchell High School. NJROTC units from schools throughout Florida gathered to compete in personnel inspection, drill, color guard, academics and athletics. Sailors, Midshipmen and Marines from around Florida volunteered to help judge the competition. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jennifer P. Harman/RELEASED)

Link to story: http://www.navy.mil/search/display.asp?story_id=56716

Finally, some new stuff!

Posted September 26, 2010
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I finally invested the money and got my “big girl” camera — Nikon D90, speedlight SB600 external flash, 18-105 lens & 70-300 lens. I also recently completed a 5wk course at the Florida Museum of Photographic Arts, which gave me the opportunity to shoot different subjects each week, using different settings, learning new techniques, and really getting outside of my comfort zone. So here are few of my favorites from over the last few months (some were published on Navy News Stand, so click the image for URL ) … enjoy!

And as always, your feedback is welcomed and encouraged : )

Here's a favorite from my most recent Navy assignment. It was Family Day during the drill weekend, so it was nice to witness some of these tough guys sharing a special moment with their kids : ) Click image for link

Wasn't one of my personal favorites, but it did get published : ) Click image for link

Using my 70-300 lens, I was able to get about 6ft away

I took this shot about 10 seconds before he got spooked and ran off

My assignment was to photograph a place ... all the other beach shots looked like your typical FL beach sunset, but this one stood out for me

My friend's son ... he didn't know I was there b/c I was using my 70-300 zoom lens : )

Trying industrial/commercial style photography

Playing around with fashion/commercial style photography

The assignment was to photograph a job or hobby ... I wanted to capture how worn & tattered ballet shoes become from all the hard work & practice that goes into the finished performance

Oldies, but goodies … some random (sports) favorites

Posted May 14, 2010
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Here’s a quick sampling of my sports photography. It’s really a thrilling experience to be on the sidelines … holding my breath while trying to be brave enough to stand still long enough to get the shot, as a stampede of players are headed right toward me! Sports and kids … I think those are the most fun and exciting images to capture : )

 

 

This was from a semi-pro football game

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This little man had a BIG personality! (only 3yrs old!)

 

 

 

ACC Championship Game (Ga Tech vs Clemson)

The next morning this photo was all over the media … too bad the pro sports photographer beside me beat me to the punch! Guess those are the breaks sometimes. (photo taken 12/6/09)

 

Stories Published

Posted March 23, 2010
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It’s so exciting for me to see my work published … makes me feel like I’m actually “doing” something and contributing to something greater than me. This is the kind of thing that really keeps me motivated to write more stories and take more pics!

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Here’s the link to my 2nd story that was just published: http://www.navy.mil/search/display.asp?story_id=52072

My goal with this story was to try and make, what could have been a dry & boring story, interesting enough so that people would want to to read it — if Navy News Stand picked it up, I guess I’m on the right track.

Although I do have to recognize the guidance and support I’ve been given by my fellow MC’s & the PAO community … I especially want to thank MC1 Hannon and MC2 Kapica for being my “training wheels” on this story!

Additional links where this story was posted:

http://www6.lexisnexis.com/publisher/EndUser?Action=UserDisplayFullDocument&orgId=574&topicId=100010492&docId=l:1148397737&isRss=true

Thanks again for taking the time to review my work … I really appreciate it!

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Here’s a link to my FIRST story published: http://www.navy.mil/search/display.asp?story_id=51976

Additional links where this story was posted:

http://www.qando.net/regional_tampa.aspx

http://m.military.com/news/articlerss/navy-news/navy-week-returns-to-tampa-bay.xml/4

http://www.military.com/news/article/navy-news/navy-week-returns-to-tampa-bay.html

http://www.militaryspot.com/news/item/navy_week_returns_to_tampa_bay/

http://www.bymnews.com/news/newsDetails.php?id=67185

http://www.news.navy.mil/search/print.asp?story_id=51976&VIRIN=83240&imagetype=1&page=1