Stephanie Bjarnason looked into the sky above the Delta Grand Hotel Aug. 14, 2011, to spot the fireworks she thought she’d just heard.
When nothing appeared she looked down and saw something completely unexpected.
“I saw people with guns and my first thought was, ‘they’re making a movie,’” she testified Wednesday in the trial for Jujhar Khun-Khun, Jason McBride and Michael Jones. All three face a charge of murder, four charges of attempted murder and various firearm offences.
“I (saw) a light coloured SUV and remember seeing one individual in black running toward the vehicle … crouched over.”
They then started shooting.
At that point Stephanie, who was with her husband Robert, turned toward the casino and ran.
She got inside the doors yelled at people to stay inside because there was a shooting underway, and turned to see where her husband was.
He hadn’t run when gunfire shattered the calm of the tourism hot-spot.
“I heard a lady shouting at me from across the street (in the Prospera Place parking lot) to come and seek cover,” Robert said, adding he declined because it was at that point his wife emerged from the casino and they tentatively returned to the scene of the shooting.
The Bjarnasons were caught while walking the sidewalk; Diane Hofer was in her car with a friend and his son when chaos broke out. She saw someone with a gun run toward the SUV with Jonathan Bacon, Larry Amero and James Riach, Lindsay Black and Leah Hadden-Watts inside. It rolled to a stop, did a U-turn and drove down Cawston.
Within moments her friend spotted the vehicle the gunman had been in tearing after them, so she turned down Ellis Street to call 911.
While she was on hold, Hofer’s friend convinced her to return to the scene and help those who had been injured.
“There was a shooting and people could be hurt,” he told her, prompting a return to the place she’d just left.
“I parked the car in front of the posts beside the exit road, parallel to where the Cayenne was stopped.”
She stayed in the car with her friend’s son while he got out to do vital checks.
He found a man slumped over outside the SUV and started performing CPR.
In the end, Bacon died from his gunshot wounds, Hadden Watts was shot in the neck and rendered a paraplegic, Amero was shot in the face, wrist and chest and Black was shot through both upper legs. Riach escaped injury.
At the scene the police found 45 expended cartridge cases, two live rounds and numerous bullet fragments.
The trial is scheduled to continue today.