It started as a normal morning today at Dennis Intermediate School, but ended with the suicide of 14-year-old Brandon Clegg, who shot his way into the school.
“It was calm until they said it was a lockdown. Everybody thought it was a drill until they said it again really fast,” said fifth-grader Jayla Henderson.
Then, moments later, Jayla said she and her fifth-grade classmates knew it was real.
“It sounded like a pistol,” she said of at least three gunshots she heard as her teacher ordered students under their desks.
PHOTOS: Richmond school shooting
“She was trying to keep us quiet because everyone was panicking,” Jayla said.
It’s not easy for a mother to hear her fifth-grade daughter talking about gunfire at school.
“I don’t like it, shouldn’t be that way. I don’t know how things get to this. It’s sad,” said Jayla’s mother, Danielle Hurd.
She had been waiting anxiously for hours to finally see her daughter.
“To have her in my arms is unexplainable. There are no words,” she said.
It was quite a moment after parents got the call — there was a shooter at school.
“She said there was a shooting at school you need to get to your son. What is that call like? I just woke up, I panicked. I about had a whole heart attack and a half, that’s my son," said Dennis Intermediate parent Tina Hunt.
Hunt’s son was close to the gunfire, too.
“He heard like four shots and he ran underneath the table. He said he was scared. I said, ‘I don’t blame you I‘d be scared, too,’” she told him.
Many parents and grandparents, including Hunt, couldn’t yet see their loved ones, but knew they were safe.
“A big relief. I can breathe now,” said grandparent Linda Wallace. “It’s got me real emotional. And I was just praying my grandkids were OK.”
This community is still trying to process the violence here. But mostly there is a tremendous wave of relief after authorities thwarted a mass shooting, thanks to a well-timed tip.
“You definitely count your blessings this time of year, and especially moments like today,” Hurd said.
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