“Shots fired, active shooter! Everyone run for safety, run!” The officers called out last night as I deplaned Lufthansa flight 0404 from Frankfurt, Germany. I was waiting for my luggage, having just cleared customs and thought to myself, “WTF did I just step into?”

I took cover behind a concrete pillar beside a female officer with her gun trained forward, she had an expected anxious look on her face. I surveyed the scene. “Were shots fired?” I thought to myself, it was so noisy it was tough to hear much but as I ran for cover it felt like getting shot at in Iraq or Afghanistan, probably in my head more than anything. Very hectic.

I looked across the passport control area to see a mother running for her life with a baby in her arms, and two older people filming the whole scene of pandemonium with their smart phones, it was crazy.

Let me rewind a bit.

I was in the first group off the plane with a business class ticket purchased with air miles. I started scanning my passport into the automated machine when the first alarm in Terminal 8 went up (I was in Terminal 1), officers said there was an active shooter loose and told us to go back into the ramp walk way area, which most everyone did rather orderly. It was too few people to cause a panic, that would come soon.

A quick assessment and I realized my phone was fully charged, and I slid my high power 1000 lumens flashlight (I always carry one, it’s not an offensive tool, purely defensive) out of my top backpack pocket. I started chatting up the security ushers (not sure what to call them but most could not speak English that well). They knew zero, nothing, they were just waiting to be told what to do from the Port Authority officers.

I scanned two exit points, one would come with a jump and I was at least comforted that I had an out if needed. I let everyone know around me about the plan and they seemed a bit relieved that there at least was somewhat of a plan in place. Other than those two exits (one exit was not suited for kids or moms since there was a drop from the gate onto the concrete ramp where normally a plane’s door would dock) there were no choices, and it was cramped quarters for 50. It would get worse soon.

Thankfully a uniformed officer came back and gave us the all clear, and back down the stairs into the passport area we went.