In 3rd period English class, there was
an announcement over the intercom: “Lockdown, we are in lockdown.” I looked up
to see the fear in my teacher’s eyes. When I heard the stress in his voice as
he told us to get down, I knew this wasn’t a drill.
I sat in the far corner of the room, my
back pressed against the wall. My hands were shaking as I texted my parents. I
told them we were in lockdown and that I loved them. That I didn’t know what
was happening, but I loved them. I can’t count how many times I said that in
those next few hours.
My classmates and I sat on the floor
and watched a livestream of the local news from someone’s phone. We watched
police cars pull up, and helicopters circling overhead, and cops storming the
campus with giant rifles.
Another classmate downloaded a crime
app. Every couple minutes it sent us updates about video surveillance showing
the suspect removing his red hoodie, and paramedics tending to an injured
victim on campus. Finally, we heard a voice on the intercom, “We are about to
evacuate the building. Please be ready.”
We were a jumbled stampede fleeing
campus. Outside, crowds of parents waited for us. Several news trucks and police
cars were lined up down the street. I ran to my mom and hugged her and let out
a cry. I’ve never been so relieved.
Returning to school the next day,
especially to my English class, made me anxious. I kept looking back at the
corner where I sat during the lockdown. Just 24 hours ago, I had been gripping
my phone, not knowing how the ordeal would end.
Since that day, we learned that there wasn’t an active shooter threatening the student body. The gun went off accidentally. But even that accident created a lockdown and led to someone getting injured. Now I have a new feeling of vulnerability that pervades everything. It feels like anyone can carry a gun, anywhere. No place is safe.
An abridged version of this commentary aired on KCBS.