WHEELING - Shawn Krack was making coffee in the kitchen of his second story apartment on Eoff Street Wednesday afternoon when he heard gunfire from the nearby Federal Building.
Krack walked onto the balcony at the rear of the building after hearing the first few shots. He said he saw the gunman, identified as former Wheeling police officer Thomas Piccard, standing behind a gray pickup truck as he fired an entire clip of ammunition from an assault rifle at the glass section of the Federal Building's facade.
Krack watched as Piccard placed the empty clip on the truck before reloading and firing more rounds at the building. After emptying the second clip, the gunman armed himself with a pistol and resumed shooting while advancing toward the building, Krack recalled.
At one point, Krack witnessed Piccard wave at a vehicle that pulled into the parking lot and motion for the driver to turn around.
Officers then emerged from streets on the north and south ends of the Federal Building and returned fire, Krack said. Piccard crouched between vehicles before being fatally shot by a Wheeling police officer and a Federal Building security guard.
"I'm so shocked," said Krack, who has lived in the building for about 16 months.
Ron Knellinger was helping two friends move into that same apartment building when the first shots were fired.
"We were getting out of the truck and all hell broke loose," Knellinger said.
He never saw the gunman, but said he saw smoke fuming from the barrel of the man's weapon.
Amanda Blake, whom Knellinger was helping move in, said she took cover at several spots behind the garage, but could not tell where the gunfire was coming from. She recounted people nearby directing her where to move.
Wheeling resident Carla Webb Daniels said she witnessed Piccard firing at the building. Daniels said she was in her attorney's office across the street when she heard loud gunshots. When she looked out she saw a man standing between vehicles pull out a gun and start shooting at the Federal Building. She then saw the shooter put down the rifle and reload before shooting at the Federal Building and then the YWCA building.
"I was so nervous, I couldn't believe it," Daniels said. "I saw the smoke and said 'Someone's got a gun.' People were scared."