DARLINGTON COUNTY, S.C. (WPDE) - Carolyn Oliver of Society Hill says her two granddaughters, ages 15 and 20, managed to escape through an exit door during a mass shooting at an Aurora, Colorado movie theater Friday morning.
She says the girls weren't injured, but they did have some eye irritation from the tear gas.
Federal law enforcement officers say James Egan Holmes, 24, killed at least 12 people when he fired into the crowded movie theater showing "The Dark Knight Rises." Police say 59 others were wounded. Holmes is in police custody.
Oliver says her granddaughters were at the movies with four friends and were sitting on the front row. She says they told her the movie had just started when a man entered a door and "gassed the place."
The girls initially thought it was a part of the movie until their eyes started to burn, Oliver says, so they got on the floor.
"The only side effects they've had physically were stinging eyes from the tear gas."
She says when the man started shooting, her granddaugthers and their friends ran out through an exit door.
"When the shooting really got intense they realized this man was shooting people. They got up and ran out the other exit. I'm just thankful they got out okay."
One friend had to be treated at the hospital because his neck was grazed by a bullet.
Oliver had no idea what was going on until hours after the shooting happened.
She woke up Friday morning and got on Facebook. She read a messge from her granddaughters saying they survived the shooting.
"The first thing I see was a post from my granddaughter that I 'm glad everyone got out okay and then the next post was we survived the shooting. And I posted Grandma's heart can't take the word shooting and no details, what's going on," Oliver says.
She didn't hear from the girls, so she continued to get dress for work.
When she got to work, Oliver says, her co-workers were all talking about the shooting at the movie theater in Colorado.
She put two and two together and realized her granddaughters were in the very same movie theater where the mass shooting happened.
Oliver says she was a basket case pretty much all morning at work.
"I went in the bathroom, had a good cry," explains Oliver. "Did the grandma thing. You know, I was in a panic. I couldn't function. I started to come home and I said that wouldn't do me any good because I would sit here and be worse than I was at work."
The girls finally called Oliver. She says they didn't talk long because the girls were tired and didn't have any sleep.
"After I talked with them and knew they were okay, I was able to get a good night's sleep last night."
Oliver says her granddaughters have lived in Aurora, Colorado for seven years with their parents who retired there after serving many years in the military.
She wishes she could fly there just to hug the girls, but is okay knowing they made it out.
She plans to see them for Thanksgiving.
Oliver is keeping those who didn't survive and were wounded in her thoughts and prayers.