TROUTDALE, Ore. – Two Reynolds High School freshmen were in the gym Tuesday when they heard a bang.
They thought it was a light falling. But then they heard another bang. It was loud. It came from the outside of the gym and from the hallway. There was no doubt then. Someone was shooting a gun.
The two boys, Cameron and Caden, told KATU that they and others dashed to a nearby weight room and hid.
Police said the shooter came into the school with a rifle and opened fire, killing one student and injuring a PE teacher, whose injuries are not life-threatening. The shooter is dead, police said. In the early evening, police announced the student killed was freshman 14-year-old Emilio Hoffman. Authorities have not released the identity of the shooter.
From all accounts the police response was swift and students and teachers reacted to an active-shooting situation with poise despite the panic, the fear and the confusion.
Inside the weight room, Cameron and Caden said there may have been a hundred students in there, but they said there were no adults. Even with the panic setting in, the students remained calm and some of them took charge.
“’Be quiet! There’s a shooter! This is not a drill!’” Cameron told KATU some students were telling the others.
The students who took control told everyone to sit down and remain calm. They told them everything was going to be OK.
Nathan was also in the gym getting ready for freshmen PE. He told KATU the shooter started in the boy’s locker room and then came out in the hallway. He too ran to the weight room.
“I did not see (the shooter),” he said. “I of course heard the gunshots, and I saw a couple teachers running to make sure everyone was safe.”
He said he heard five gunshots.
He too said there were no teachers in the weight room, “because the teachers were either trying to handle the situation or were going to the main building to warn everyone.”
He said they couldn’t lock the weight room doors, because they didn’t have the keys; instead, they barricaded it.
“We kind of just went with instinct, because we realized it was real and we needed to do what we had practiced with lockdown drills,” he said.
The students waited there for at least 45 minutes until the police came. They then went to the gym. There they were checked by police and were taken to the nearby church were they could call their parents.
Jada, a sophomore, had just been dropped off by her mother, Wendy, when the shooting started.
Jada said one of the teachers told her to get in a classroom and get down on the ground.
“I was really scared,” Jada told KATU. “This is happening. This is real. I couldn’t believe it.”
Meanwhile, outside, her mother said she knew something was happening when two police cars raced into the parking lot.
“I seen that, and I said I’m going to go get my daughter right now,” Wendy said.
But she was met by locked doors. Two teachers directed her to the main school building where she was ushered into a locked area with a teacher and three students.
Over the intercom blared instructions to lock the doors and turn off the lights.
Police and teachers eventually helped Wendy track down Jada. Wendy said police ordered them and other students to keep their hands up and visible. Before escorting them off the campus, Wendy said police asked them what they’d seen. They also patted them down to make sure they and the others had no weapons.
Police made everyone leave their bags inside the school and Wendy wasn’t allowed to get her car.
She praised law enforcement for its response to the shooting.
“It was amazing. They were quick. They did a real thorough job. … When I walked out and seen how many were here I actually felt a little safer knowing that they were here,” Wendy said.
Authorities asked parents to go to the Wood Village Fred Meyer to be reunited with their children. A large crowd of parents converged on the area and waited in anticipation for their children to be dropped off by school buses. TriMet also sent in some buses to assist.
By about 1:30 p.m. the buses had dropped off all the students. Those students whose parents couldn’t take them home will be taken home by district officials.
"Talking to Children about Traumatic Events" (pdf) - From the Tigard-Tualatin School District.
Watch KATU's Shellie Bailey-Shah's interview with Cameron and Caden: