TAMPA — Her son called as soon as possible.
U.S. Navy Lt. Commander Andrew Tew was in the Washington Navy Yard when the shooting started. He escaped unharmed and quickly went to his home a few blocks away.
He immediately called his mother, Plant City native and resident Deborah Hemphill, to tell her he was fine. She didn’t know what had happened - the shooting had just happened and the news hadn’t yet saturated the country.
“He said, ‘It was very, very scary,” said Hemphill.
Tew told her he had been in his office and was heading to a morning meeting when an intercom announcement told staff to evacuate the building.
Then the shots rang out, Hemphill said.
“The shooting was on the floor that he worked on,” Hemphill said. “It was a couple of hallways from his office. They could hear the shooting.”
Luckily, Tew and several colleagues were near a stairwell and they quickly ran down the stairs and left the Navy Yard before it was placed on lockdown, she said. Tew and several colleagues went to his home, which was only about four blocks away, she said.
Tew, 36 and a married father of two small boys, has been with the U.S. Navy for about a dozen years. He has served in Iraq, Afghanistan and Bahrain, she said.
This is his second stint at the Washington Navy Yard. He’s been there over a year and works in the government contracting area as a supply officer, Hemphill said.
Tew was born and raised in Plant City and graduated from Plant City High School.
Last week, Tew and his family came to Florida, visiting Plant City and Walt Disney World in Orlando.
Monday was his first day back to work since he had gone on vacation, Hemphill said.
For Hemphill, it was a stressful day, even though she knew her son was safe. She was glued to the television trying to keep up with the latest news.
“It was a pretty nerve-wracking day,” she said. “I was anxious.”