This movie theater didn’t open to the the outside. It opened into a shopping mall, and a poorly designed one at that. After the last movie I had seen at this theater, it took my friends and me about 20 minutes to find the exit. So after clearing the line of officers, I didn’t know where to run. Frankly, I don’t remember deciding to run in any particular direction. I kept my eyes focused on the back of my friend’s head and booked it, trusting the rest of our group was doing the same and was close behind me.

The next few minutes — I think; I have no idea how long this chaos lasted — are a complete blur. We darted into a multi-level Macy’s, and it was eerily quiet and empty. A handful of items littered the floor and indistinct shouts echoed in the distance. We ran into an employee who, after the color left his cheeks for a moment at the report of the incident, directed us quickly toward a storage closet where he said we could hide.

A sense of calm washed over me for the first time at the thought of a door we could lock ourselves behind. But after surveying the confined space, the men in our group insisted we press on to find an exit. It was better, they reasoned, to risk exposure than to be sitting ducks. We kept moving.