Navy Yard shooting

Kayla Yi, left, and her mother, Donna Richardson embrace near the Navy Yard in Washington in the aftermath of the shooting Monday. Richardson, a Bel Air resident, works in the building where 12 people were killed. (Win McNamee, Getty Images / September 16, 2013)

For Donna Richardson, of Bel Air, the day after the deadly shooting rampage at the Washington Navy Yard was more frightening than the previous day's actual events.

"The whole thing I just felt like I was in a movie scene," she said of what it was like to be in the midst of the chaos.

Richardson said Tuesday during an interview from her home she worked in the same building, Building 197, where investigators say suspected shooter Aaron Alexis began his rampage shortly after 8 a.m. Monday.

"Just thinking about the possibilities and being so close, it could have been me if I had taken a different path," Richardson said.

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The building serves as the headquarters of the Naval Sea Systems Command, where about 3,000 people work, according to The Washington Post. In all, about 16,000 people work at the Navy Yard, which was established along the Anacostia River in Washingtonin 1799.

Richardson, a civilian defense employee, is a human resources division chief for staffing and classification. She was starting her sixth day at work on the third floor of the building. Law enforcement investigators have said Alexis shot a number of his victims on the third and fourth floors of that building.

The 34-year-old military contract worker used his identification card, which was valid, to enter the building.

Thirteen people, including Alexis, were dead by the end of the rampage, and eight more were wounded, according to CNN.

Richardson said she was at her desk around 8:15 a.m. Monday when she heard the first shot, which she described as "just a loud pop."

She said her co-workers reacted to the noise, and began looking down the hall to see what was happening.

"I didn't know if something large had fallen or exploded, or why, and people were just reacting to that," Richardson said.

Then she heard two more loud pops.

"People were starting to get up out of their seats and scramble around," she said.

Richardson said the fire alarm went off, and she and her co-workers headed down a stairwell and gathered outside near the riverfront.

She said police officers told employees to hurry out "because there was a shooter in the building."

Screaming, running away

Richardson said people began screaming and running away after another shot was heard outside, and instructions came over the Navy Yard public address system for employees to take shelter in the nearest building.

She and about 100 people sheltered in the Navy Yard's nearby museum and stayed there until about 3:30 p.m. Monday.

Richardson said many of the people she took shelter with did not have cell phones because workers are not permitted to bring cell phones with cameras into the installation.

Those who did have cell phones shared them, and Richardson was able to get in touch with her daughter, Kayla Yi, who lives in Beltsville and works in Laurel, through Facebook.