'Okay, The Next One Is Me'
I quickly dove under a desk – that was the desk I chose to die under. He then began methodically and calmly shooting people down. It sounded rhythmic – like he took his time in between each shot and kept up the pace, moving from person to person. After every shot I thought, "Okay, the next one is me." Shot after shot went off, and I never felt anything. I played dead and tried to look as lifeless as possible. Sometimes after a shot, I would hear a quick moan, or a slow one, or a grunt, or a quiet, reserved yell from one of the girls. After some time (I couldn't tell you if it was 5 minutes or an hour), he left. The room was silent except for the haunting sound of moans, some quiet crying, and someone muttering, "It's okay, it's going to be okay. They will be here soon." I was propping my head up just enough to mutter in a harsh whisper, "Play dead. If he thinks you're dead then he won't kill you."
Shortly after, the gunman returned. My head was down the whole time. I continued to play dead. He began unloading what it seemed like a second round into everyone again – it had to be the same people. There were way more gunshots than there were people in that room. I think I heard him reload maybe three times. I think it was the sound of reloading – they were long pauses. He continued to shoot everyone over and over. After every shot I braced myself for the next, thinking, "This one is for me."
Post Your Comment
When the gunman finally left, I heard the police barge in the hallway doors and yell, "Get down! Get down!" The cops pounded on the door and asked someone to open it. I think eventually they just came in and told us to walk out if we could. I got up and put my hands up. Just me and that one girl next to me got up. She had a gunshot wound – I hope she is okay. I think she is. She was walking. I am so proud of her for staying calm. She would have been the last person I had made eye contact with on this earth if I had died.
'Did You Go to Class Today?'
Molly Pearl, 18, a freshman international studies major and French minor, was supposed to be in French class in Norris Hall – but overslept, she told PEOPLE in an interview.
I woke up to the sirens and I heard my roommate, she read her email out loud on the phone and I just heard about West AJ. So I watched the news all morning – it never occurred to me that it was in Norris – that was my classroom. And then a friend called me and asked, "Did you go to class today? Where was your class?" And I was like, "Oh my god, Norris, 211." I kind of freaked out. I was really nervous – that could've been my class, and then I heard it was the class across the hall. So I was really worried about all my classmates, and I was kind of hoping that it wasn't – it was the class across the hall, and they were okay. So I went to my sister's apartment... and we kind of just sat there and watched the news all afternoon. I can't describe what was going through my head. Just nervous – I was really worried.
I don't know all their last names. They were all great people and that teacher was the best teacher I could've ever asked for. They were all such great people. There's no other word for it. She never had us sitting in the same spot so we all worked with different people, and since it was such a small class, everyone got to know each other on a really friendly level. Clay [Violand] and I are pretty good friends. But everyone else is on a first-name basis.
I can't describe it – the thought of what would've happened if I hadn't slept in.
Clay instant messaged me around, oh, I don't know, it was late afternoon. I had left a message on his Facebook. I was like, "Please tell me you skipped class today." He instant messaged me later as I was waiting. I just sat by my computer all day. He said, "Thank god you didn't come. I was the only one in class not shot." Then it hit me, and I started crying, and I was all over the place. My sister was there with her roommates, and I'm glad they were there. He said he walked out with one girl who was shot in the back, and it was a minor injury. I don't know how minor, but she walked out and everyone else was down. He only didn't get shot because he played dead. Hearing that is so crazy because I know I would have been shot. I wouldn't have thought to play dead, I would've just frozen. And if I was in one of the other classrooms, and I had to choose to jump out the window, I know I wouldn't have done that – you're forced to think, "What would I have done?' You're really there."
I was in the dorm when I first found out, and there was no reception on the phones. Everyone was trying to use their phone and circuits were busy. I was talking to my aunt over instant message and talking to my mom. It was all by word of mouth – I had to pass it on from one person to another that I was okay, so thank god that was working.
More firsthand accounts >