Leaving Taylor’s Bar and Grill early Tuesday morning, Marissa Sewart was saying goodbye to friends. It was just past 1 a.m. as she stood near the entrance to the bar’s patio by 13th Avenue and Kincaid Street.
But close behind her, near the front door, Forest Laughner engaged in a verbal altercation with Taylor’s security staff.
Sewart said she didn’t notice Laughner, who was not within her line of sight. That was, at least, until he pulled out a gun.
“It was just a whirlwind,” Sewart said. “I didn’t see anything until the point that the gun was brought up.”
The Eugene Police Department later arrested Laughner, 23, and charged him with reckless endangering, unlawful use of a weapon and three counts of menacing.
After employees at the bar cut Laughner off from service, he had been asked to leave, EPD spokesperson Melinda McLaughlin said in an email released later Tuesday morning. That’s when he revealed the gun in his waistband.
At that point, someone in the small crowd yelled to warn everyone of the apparent danger. It was only then that Sewart, and a few others on the patio, noticed and headed for safety.
“We were all getting ushered,” Sewart said. “A couple of the bartenders and bouncers took control and handled things quickly.”
Meanwhile, Taylor’s staff “followed at a distance,” as Laughner raced away from the scene, McLaughlin said. But within a minute, EPD responded to calls from people at the bar and arrested him on the corner of 11th Avenue and Alder Street. They also confiscated his concealed handgun license.
The only image Sewart remembers of Laughner is his black, curly hair as he quickly made his way toward Alder Street.
While Taylor’s employees and EPD pursued Laughner, everyone still at the bar crouched down, avoiding all windows and door openings.
“By the time I realized what was happening, we were inside and safe,” Sewart said. “There were varied emotions [among the people in the room], but overall, it was decently calm considering what had happened.'”
Within a couple of minutes, a Taylor’s employee notified patrons and other employees that the potentially dangerous scene was over. Still, the situation’s rapidness did not allow many of the witnesses to process exactly what had just happened.
“I never felt unsafe or like my life was on the line,” Sewart said. “To me, it was just one kid who did something stupid. It was over, really, before it started.”