Karla Abel was in the lobby of The Plaza Live in Orlando, Florida, on Friday night, where Grimmie was opening for the band Before You Exit.
“One minute it was super normal. The next minute, it was chaos everywhere,” she tells PEOPLE. “I’ve never been so scared.”
Abel, 21, says Grimmie was interacting with fans before the deadly incident. “It was a really laid-back vibe in there,” she says. “They had already finished performing, and she was standing by this table and signing autographs and posing for pictures. You see it all the time, and it was just a good vibe.”
“Everyone was pretty happy,” she continues. “It wasn’t loud. But it was a lot of people talking and laughing. She was really accessible. Everyone was talking and there was a crowd around her.”
Abel was not looking when a man armed with two guns allegedly walked up and opened fire on the young singer.
“I didn’t see the guy come up to her. My back was to her at that moment. But suddenly there was this sound. I at first thought it was some sort of firecracker, or even something with the microphones inside. It took me a minute to figure out what it was. I think there were like six or seven shots. At least that’s what it sounded like to me. I didn’t count them,” she says.
Chaos soon broke out.
“Everything went f—— crazy,” Abel says. “People were throwing themselves onto the ground, and covering their heads. All I could do was look at the exit doors and duck and run out. But it was terrifying. Everyone was screaming.”
“I turned around once I got to the door, and saw so many people ducking, but I could see her feet,” the witness explains. “She wasn’t moving. I didn’t see any blood, but I think my friend did.” (Abel’s friend was unavailable for comment).
From her standpoint, Able was able to see what appeared to be a struggle with the unnamed killer, who shot himself dead. “I see these two guys who are wrestling or something,” she says. “It looked like a fight. And then I heard another shot, and I did see some blood then, or maybe afterwards. Then the other guy stood up. I think that was someone who was trying to take the guns away from the guy.”
Orlando police said that Grimmie’s brother, Mark, tackled the shooter before the gunman took his own life.
At that point, Abel says she and the other eye-witnesses were removed from the scene. “There were security people who started taking us all out,” she explains. “They kind of kept us by the side of the building until the police came, so we could give our statements.”
Video of her final performance at the Plaza Live was posted to YouTube early Saturday morning.
Abel went on to explain that the shooter didn’t appear to be a threat before approaching Grimmie. “I didn’t hear any screaming or anything out of the ordinary I until the shots came,” she says. “No one screamed before, like they were scared of him or anything.”
As news spread of her death, alums of The Voice took to Twitter – some with the hashtag #PrayforChristina – to express their sympathy, including current champ Alisan Porter and fellow coach Blake Shelton.