HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - As shots rang out in the parking lot of Ropers Rockin Country early Saturday morning, many clubgoers inside had no idea what was going on just outside the front door.
"I heard nothing," said Paul Tutor, visiting the nightclub on U.S. 49 in Hattiesburg with a group of friends from the coast. "They had the front door blocked off, they wouldn't let us leave," he said.
"When customers started running inside the building, we knew they are were running from something we just didn't know what at the time," said manager Terri McFarlin.
McFarlin said she was not aware of what was going on, but authorities told management to keep all patrons inside the building.
"People wanted to leave, nobody wanted to stay. They wanted to get out here and see what was going on," said McFarlin.
McFarlin said the situation inside the club got tense, almost chaotic at times.
"They wanted to leave, people were trying to bum rush the security because they wanted to leave," she said.
When clubgoers were allowed to leave, many found their cars inside a crime scene. Tutor and his group of friends were not allowed near their car, with no set time frame on when they would be able to leave the area.
That turned into hours and many fell asleep on the pavement. A Hattiesburg Police Officer drove a couple to Cracker Barrel for breakfast, with plans to return for their car once the scene was open.
McFarlin said Ropers would open as normally scheduled at 6 p.m. Saturday.
"This happened outside of Ropers, it didn't happen inside Ropers," McFarlin said. "He could've really shot someone, someone could've gotten hurt."