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In Focus

I never have woken up so fast, and been so terrified in my life.

Shortly before 7:30 a.m. on Thursday morning, I was still fast asleep when I was awakened by the scanner going off. I heard two words...words I’d never dreamed I’d hear nor do I ever want to hear again...“active shooter.”

I sat straight up in bed, listened for the location and panicked, screaming my favorite four letter explicative.

Like many of you, I know many people that work there.

I prayed for the best and prepared for the worst. My mind was moving faster than my body, telling me I had to go, tripping over everything as I threw on some clothes, sent a few texts, grabbed a coffee and my camera and flew out the door.

The drive was long, as I processed the small bits of information I had, not knowing what I was going to encounter when I got there. The adrenaline took hold, increasing my anxiety.

Is anyone hurt? Have they captured the shooter? Is there a stand off? A shoot out? My mind wandered, thinking of the worst possible scenarios.

My phone began to blow up with messages telling me what was going on. I had no time to check them.

As I entered into town, everything seemed normal. People were going about their day. But just a little further down the road the flashing lights caught my attention. City crews were blocking off a side street. I stepped out of my car to take a few pictures, but couldn’t see much. I drove around to get to the other side of the closed street and found a place to park. Then I realized I was at the school,which was just next door to this incident.

A steady stream of vehicles came through the parking lot which were parents picking up their kids. Seeing this and the blocked road filled with flashing lights from emergency vehicles just a few feet away was a heart wrenching sight. But I still had a job to do.

I got out of my vehicle and snapped a few pictures of the blockade. I had to hold my breath to stop shaking enough to record a video on my phone to upload to our social media.

It was eerily quiet and there was no movement other than the flashing lights. Just the sound of passing cars. This increased my anxiety even further. Then I got out of there. I was sweating and shaking the whole way home.

On my way home, I received a call. Even though I had it on speaker phone I still had to pull over. There was too much to focus on. I learned the shooter was apprehended and nobody was hurt. I was so relieved. My body finally started to relax. This could have been so much worse...luckily it was not.

When I got home I had to change my shirt, it was drenched in sweat. The cats were mad I left without feeding them. I finally sat down with a fresh cup of coffee. I began processing and realizing what the employees and my friends had just experienced. While they may be fine physically, they were understandably very shaken. But I’m sure they were very thankful to return home to their families.

Who knows how this incident will affect the workers. It may be very traumatic for some to return to the workplace.

I was informed that news stations from WDAY, WCCO, CNN, CBS and more had contacted our office to ask for permission to use the video I took at the scene. I was stunned, even flattered, that they wanted to use my video. But at the same time it just made this horrifying situation seem even bigger. This was too close to home.

Hours later I was still reeling, trying to focus on the work in front of me and finding it difficult. I had zero appetite. I’ve seen buildings engulfed in flames, horrific accidents, dead bodies, and those made an impact on me, but not as much as this did.

I think the words “active shooter” have been a great fear for many as we continue to see more and more mass shootings across the country.

We all hang on to the constant belief and hope that it will never happen here...to us. And it did. Thankfully, the ending to this story was one of the best possible outcomes.

I never could have imagined the feelings those words “active shooter” would stir up. I was petrified, worried and shaken. And I wasn’t even involved in the incident. Imagine how those at the scene felt watching this situation play out. And law enforcement and EMS heard the same call I did and did not know what they could potentially face.

I hope I won’t have to experience something like this ever again in my lifetime.


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