The scene: inside Judge Cynthia Kent's courtroom.
Capital murder convict, John Newman, was there for a hearing. A witness from his prison was on the stand. Photojournalist Chris Howell was videotaping from the back of the courtroom and I (reporter Julie Tam) was sitting in the first row.
Then, all of a sudden, loud noises coming from outside.
Everyone was startled, but none of us knew what we had just heard. It sounded like a wrecking ball demolishing cement during construction.
Assistant D.A. Mike West continued questioning the witness, until two women came running in, screaming and crying, saying someone was shooting and people were running around the courthouse in chaos.
Several Smith County Sheriff's deputies already in the courtroom hustled everyone back behind the stand. Judge Kent ducked into her office. One deputy kept the inmate pinned to the floor.
In the hallway, Howell captured the sounds of dozens of gunshots fired outside. The sounds echoed throughout the marble halls of the courthouse.
"Get down! Stay down!" one deputy yelled, as we huddled behind the stand, where Judge Kent normally sits during court proceedings.
Those were tense moments for all of us. Not knowing what was going on and where the shooter was, we could only hope to make it out alive. Fortunately, Chris and I, as well as everyone else inside the courthouse made it out fine, although many people were shaking and in tears.