It was around lunchtime on Wednesday, when Kenneth Kellam and his family heard shots fired at the Ramada on Auburn Boulevard, where they had stayed the night before.
"We just hear a couple shots, and a couple seconds later, more shots," Kellam recounted to ABC10 News. "I was looking out the window, then we moved away from the window."
His family had recently arrived in the Sacramento area, moving across country from Georgia.
Wednesday was his oldest child's birthday, and they were just getting ready to go to the Cheesecake Factory to celebrate, when the shots rang out.
"We come out of our room and the SWAT officer was on the other end," Kellam explained. "They told us to go back into the room, close the door, lock the door."
The family looked out their fourth floor window and saw snipers looking at a room below them.
"I turned on the police scanner, just to hear what was going on, and it was a couple floors down we heard them breeching into one of their rooms a couple times, and the whole building shook," Kellam recalled.
His son, who was turning 11, said with a laugh that the day felt normal to him. The Kellams' three boys played on their devices and hung out for the six hours they had to shelter in place. The Kellams also have a daughter, but she was staying with her grandma, who lives in the area.
"It wasn't scary at all because law enforcement did arrive very quickly. We felt safe with them around," Kellam said.
He grew serious when talking about the two CHP offers who had been injured and the Sacramento County Sheriff's deputy, Dep. Robert "Bob" French, who was killed when one man opened fire on law enforcement.
"I have no words for that. First feeling is that it pisses me off, you know. I've been away from Sacramento for a long time, and coming back to something like this, this is just -- shock," he said. "It's back to normal for me because I'm from here, but for them -- this is their first time hearing gunshots for real."
Kellam expressed gratitude for law enforcement's swift response to the scene.
The family is staying at another hotel for the night. Their vehicle and belongings are still at the Ramada. They hope to retrieve those on Thursday.
Meanwhile, all of the family's household belongings are on their way from Georgia to California, for the cross-country move.