Charlotte hotel guest: ‘I thought a bomb was going off’

Bullets created marks in the entrance to the Skye Condominiums.
Bullets created marks in the entrance to the Skye Condominiums. Steve Harrison/sharrison@charlotteobserver.com

It was Shoaib Ashraf’s second night in uptown at the Hyatt Place hotel. He hadn’t slept well the first night, and the second night didn’t look good, either. The CIAA basketball tournament is the biggest event all year in Charlotte, and people were celebrating on every floor.

Ashraf was on the hotel’s 14th floor drifting off to sleep early Sunday when he heard an explosion, then again and again and again ...

“I thought a bomb was going off – like a cluster bomb,” said Ashraf, 32. “I’m ducking in my bed, not knowing what was happening. This is the scariest thing I ever experienced.”

Charlotte-Mecklenburg police say three out-of-towners stood in a parking deck across from the hotel around 4:40 a.m. and fired 40 to 50 rounds from an AK-47 into two vehicles and the hotel lobby. The suspects are in custody, and no one was reported injured.

At that moment, Ashraf only knew that the music had stopped and the hotel was suddenly quiet.

“I was thinking, ‘Did someone just shoot the place up? Are people trying to take cover?’ I didn’t want to make it known there was someone in the room. I was just lying in bed trying not to move.”

Soon someone was banging on his door.

“I’m using my big-boy voice and I say, ‘Yeah, who is it?’

A police officer told him to open the door, checked his window for damage and explained what had happened. Ashraf felt relief.

“I’m thankful that no one was injured. I’m thankful that no one died,” he said. “To put 40 to 50 rounds in a very short amount of time from an assault rifle ... it’s ferocious.”

Karen Sullivan: 704-358-5532, @Sullivan_kms