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Highland Park smoothie bowl shop owners thanked by grateful residents after rushing July 4th paradegoers to safety

Smoothie bowl shop owners rushed paradegoers to safety amid massacre in Highland Park
Smoothie bowl shop owners rushed paradegoers to safety amid massacre in Highland Park 02:40

HIGHLAND PARK, Ill. (CBS) -- For hours on after the Highland Park July 4th parade massacre, some local business owners held frightened paradegoers in her smoothie shop – some of them children.

Matt and Lindsay Meltzer, owners of the Bright Bowls smoothie bowl shop at 777 Central Ave., took CBS 2's Charlie De Mar back to that day of horror – and explained how they kept everyone safe and at ease.

People who were lined up along Central Avenue to watch the parade funneled into the Meltzers' shop. The Meltzers helped countless strangers hide for hours.

They don't consider what they did to be extraordinary, but the people who they helped showed their gratitude on Wednesday.

"This obviously isn't a basement meant for play or for people," Lindsay Meltzer said as she took De Mar down the shop's basement stairs. "This is our storage space."

But the storage basement of Bright Bowls quickly transformed into a bunker Monday.  

"All of a sudden I saw them sprinting with looks of terror," Lindsay Meltzer said. "I screamed, 'Everyone inside! Everyone inside!' I don't know what's going on or what's happening."

For protection, the back-alley windows of Bright Bowls were boarded up with cardboard as minutes turned into hours – and as the light of the parade suddenly turned dark.

"I think we felt a sense of responsibility for people, because this was our place," said Matt Meltzer.

A teacher was among the roughly 100 people who ran inside the shop. She kept more than a dozen kids occupied and at ease as police searched for the shooter - and parents frantically waited for answers.  

"Meditation, singing songs – we've got three kids, so we had markers and crayons and paper that we brought downstairs," said Matt Meltzer.

The group of strangers turned survivors who bonded in a basement - and escaped safely – returned on Wednesday. They left flowers and notes, a thank-you to the couple who served calm during the chaos.

"We don't consider ourselves heroes. We consider everyone who was there on 4th of July a hero – just for running and grabbing their children, and doing what they could to stay safe," said Lindsay Meltzer. "We just happened to have a place with a lot of space."

De Mar asked the Meltzers what it was like returning to their shop - a place where they were literally hiding for their lives. They surprisingly said it was therapeutic to return – and they said to have everyone come by on Wednesday meant so much.

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