ONLY ON WSFA 12 NEWS: Eyewitness account of shooting spree

Samson, Ala. (WSFA) -- Count Jackie Ard as one of the lucky ones.

She stood literally inches from disaster as Michael McLendon opened fire at the Inland Gas Station on Main Street in Samson, killing Sonja Smith, 43.

"[Smith] came from the store, and she went to the gas pump to get gas," Ard explained.

"She hadn't started pumping yet when he came through the parking lot."

McLendon slowly rolled through the station, firing relentlessly at Smith and another man as Ard hid for cover inside her car.

"I ducked down in my vehicle so he couldn't see me, and whenever I did that, I hit the back of [Smith's] car," Ard said.

Stories like Ard's continue to circulate through the small towns of Kinston, Samson, and Geneva. It seems everyone has some sort of connection to the victims.

"I teach at the school, and I had the 15 year old that was killed, and I knew his mother," said Amy Knowles, discussing victims Dean Wise, 15, and Tracy Wise, 34.

Wednesday night, hundreds of people packed Samson's First Baptist Church, a building which stands near the very stretch of road McLendon terrorized.

"The community as a whole is close-knit. [The victims' families] really need to have this support," explained Dykes McGowan of Samson.

It's a tremor of terror that residents in small town Alabama still can't shake.  Even though the killer is gone, tension remains.

"We weren't expecting it [Tuesday,] so now you don't know," Ard said.