SANTA FE, Texas (Reuters) - Students at Santa Fe High School in Texas were just beginning Friday classes when an alarm bell sounded, gun shots rang out, and they had to run from the latest mass shooting at a U.S. school.
“I wanted to take care of my friends, but I knew I had to get out of there,” said 15-year-old freshman Courtney Marshall, who saw the gunman walk into her art class and open fire. “I knew the guy behind me was dead.”
Authorities said a student wearing a trenchcoat and armed with a shotgun and revolver fatally shot at least 10 people before he was arrested. Explosive devices were also found on campus.
Two police officers were assigned to the school and the local police chief was among those who raced to the scene, Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick said at a news conference.
The police chief even pulled one of his officers to safety and returned fire after the officer was wounded in an exchange of fire with the suspect, Patrick said.
Sophomore Rome Shubert was in the art class where the shooting began and was shot in the head but survived.
“I was just scared for my life and my adrenaline was so high I had no idea I was shot,” Shubert told the Houston Chronicle.
Student Zack Wofford said he was in a classroom two doors down from where the shooting took place. He said his substitute teacher ran into the corridor and pulled the fire alarm and that students barricaded the door.
“On the side it happened ... was only three, four classes,” Wofford told CBS affiliate KHOU. “We knew there was another 1,000 (students) on the whole other side of the school. We knew the fire alarm would get them out safe.”
Sophomore Dakota Shrader told reporters there was panic as teachers told the students to run.
“As soon as the alarms went off, everybody just started running,” she said, “and next thing you know everybody looks, and you hear boom, boom, boom, and I just ran as fast as I could to the nearest floor so I could hide, and I called my mom.”
One male student told KHOU how he sprinted for the safety of a nearby treeline: “I didn’t want to be in sight. I heard four more shots, and then we jumped the fence to somebody’s house.”
Another, Damon Rabon, recounted how he and a substitute teacher saw the shooter after they heard several loud bangs and poked their heads out of a classroom door.
“Black trenchcoat, short kind of guy, had a sawed-off shotgun,” Rabon told CBS News in an interview.
One female student was interviewed by CBS News in a video that was widely shared online. In it, she said she was not surprised that the shooting took place at her school because they have been “happening everywhere.”
“I’ve always kind of felt like eventually it was going to happen here too,” said the student, who was not named. “I wasn’t surprised, I was just scared.”
Reporting by Liz Hampton; Additional reporting by Devika Krishna Kumar in New York; Writing by Daniel Wallis; Editing by Susan Thomas