A local newspaper photographer witnessed a gunman open fire at a federal building in downtown Dallas on Monday, capturing images of the man carrying an assault weapon.

Tom Fox, a staff photographer with the Dallas Morning News, was waiting to enter the Earle Cabell Federal Building for a routine assignment to photograph a trial when he heard shots ring out.

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“My first instinct was to just kind of look, see where the gunshots were coming from, kind of establish a safe perimeter, take a knee and shoot what I could shoot,” Fox told his outlet.

"So I pulled up my long lens and saw someone who I realized was the shooter. And I think, 'Oh my God.' I squeezed off a few frames as he picked something up — a clip, I think — and then I turned and ran," he said.

Fox then ran behind the first protective pillar he could find near the entrance of the courthouse.

Footage captured by a bystander from above in a nearby building showed Fox behind a pillar just feet away from the gunman, who was wearing a mask, combat boots and a tactical vest.

Fox said he “made myself as small as possible,” adding that he "just stood there and prayed that [the gunman] wouldn’t walk past me." 

“Because if he walks past me and sees me, he’s going to shoot me. He’s already got the gun out. I was just praying, ‘please don’t pass me, please don’t pass me,’” Fox said.

The shooter, later identified as 22-year-old Brian Isaak Clyde, collapsed in the building's parking lot after being shot by police. He died at the scene and was taken to Baylor University Medical Center, officials told the newspaper.

No one else was injured during the shooting.

Fox recalled finally feeling safe after he saw an officer running past him. 

“I’ll process this later,” the photographer said. “For now, I’m just trying to get the story out. Just get it up online, tell people what happened, especially from a first hand point of view. You don’t get that very often.”

Fox, speaking of significant and sometimes traumatic stories that can emotionally affect journalists, said “you just at the moment have to do your job and kind of put this in a little box and put it on a shelf and deal with it later.”

“Your journalistic instincts just kick in,” he said. “You use the camera almost as a shield. I also felt a journalistic duty to do all that.”

FBI Special Agent in Charge Matthew DeSarno said during an afternoon news conference that authorities were investigating a motive. DeSarno said the gunman had not been investigated by the FBI before the shooting and was not on any watch list.