A New Plymouth family touring the United States were shocked to discover they were only a few blocks away from the Washington DC massacre.
Powerco communications adviser Krysti Wetton - a former Taranaki Daily News reporter - revealed yesterday she and her parents, Lois and Dennis, were staying at a hotel very close to the Washington Navy Yard.
A former Navy man, Aaron Alexis, 34, of Fort Worth, had entered the Washington Navy Yard on Tuesday morning and shot and killed 13 workers.
He had armed himself with a military-style assault rifle, a shotgun and handgun.
Eight other workers were injured.
Alexis was shot dead by police.
The Wettons only found out what had happened after Krysti's sister, Caryn, rang in a panic to put her mind at rest.
"We were on our way to Arlington Cemetery to see JFK's grave when the shooting happened," Ms Wetton told the Daily News.
"We didn't find out until we got back to our hotel six hours later and had a phone message from my sister wanting to know that we were OK.
"We turned the TV on and couldn't believe what had happened."
They had seen fire engines and police with their sirens on "but thought it was normal for a city of this size".
The effect of the shooting had put a dampener on their visit.
"It's rather sombre here and a tragedy of this scale affects you a lot more being so close."
Ms Wetton received many relieved postings from friends after she said on her Facebook page: "Largest mass shooting in Washington DC and we were a few blocks away none the wiser. Thoughts are with the victims' families."
- Taranaki Daily News