Opinion: Inside the darkness of a threat

Feature Photo By: Alexis Drummond- Students are reunited with their parents at the intersection of of Iliff and Sedalia Friday afternoon after the two-hour lockout was finally lifted. Many parents were still waiting in the King Soopers parking lot, while others walked down to meet their kids at the school.

By: Alexis Drummond, Review Staff

“We are going into lockdown. Everyone duck and cover!”

These were the only words I heard when Principal Fay’s voice announced over the intercom. I didn’t know what he exactly meant at the time, but I could hear the terror in his voice, and I knew that something bad was happening.

Were we falling victim to a school shooter? Was there someone by my classroom with a gun? Was I going to die today?

These were just some of the questions I was asking myself as I slid under my desk and tried to cover myself with my chair. Ten thousand different scenarios were playing out in my head at the same time; most of them led to really bad outcomes.

I was in room 242, Mrs. Bristol’s CCA Women in U.S. History class. We had a substitute for the class — Mr. Rose. He didn’t have a key directly to the room, and there was no time for anyone to make sure that the door was locked. This was when I came to the realization that I had been the closest one to the door. More thoughts ran through my head:

I don’t want to die; I wish I wasn’t here; I am going to die here today?

At this point, I was scared for my life along with all of my friends’ lives. I pulled out my phone, turned the brightness all the way down, and the first person I texted was my mom.

“Mom… we are on lockdown again… Fay sounded scared and there is someone in the building,” is what I wrote.

Directly after that, I texted a few of my friends to make sure they were safe. The next person I texted was my friend Alyssa Yamada. She kept assuring me that I was safe and that I was going to be okay, but was I really? She kept telling me “It’s ok” over and over again. Was I really okay? Was anybody really okay?

I didn’t know it at the time, but apparently I was crying. The person sitting next to me, Helen Do, asked me if I was okay. I wasn’t. I was having a panic attack. Too many thoughts were rushing through my mind. I was overwhelming myself with my own thoughts.

We as students were some of the last people to know what was happening. The only way the people around me knew what was going on was from the Twitter updates from Aurora Police Department, and other people’s Snapchat stories. Other than that, we were left in the dark, literally, about what was happening around us and why we were under lockdown.

“Yeah, one of my sister’s friends is a firefighter and is outside,” said Chloe Cubbison, senior. “I’m texting her… she said there are lots of cops here. One of my freshmen friends said that APD are going to evacuate, but that’s not happening at the moment.”

Juniors Carlos Heredia and Katherine Finell stand up smiling Friday afternoon after administration gave the all-clear to stand up and turn on the lights. Students were huddled on the floor for over two hours. “It was stressful, not knowing what was going on,” said Heredia (Alexis Drummond).

In fact, there were reportedly more than 70 law enforcement officers that responded to RHS, and many had assault rifles.

A few rooms over, SWAT team members rushed into a freshman English class, demanded the students put their hands in the air, and then cuffed a student they thought had a gun; as it turns out, he was not involved in any way, said staff today.

“It was crazy because my friends and I were just chilling in the corner during the lockdown when we heard the door starting to open,” said Austin Appiah, a student in that freshman English class. “Everyone threw their hands up in fear while the cops pointed AK-47’s at us. That was the scariest event in my life. I thank God everyone is safe.”

In Mr. Wells’ honors English 10 class, everyone used students’ desks to barricade the door that led to the hall, and they used Mr. Wells’ desk to barricade the door leading to the English department.

“I hoped this wouldn’t happen at Rangeview,” said Mr. Wells.  

Throughout the two hours I was stuck on the floor, I was watching under the crack of the door for any shadows. I knew that if I saw a shadow move across the floor, blocking the little bit of light peeking through, I could attempt to prepare myself for what was going to happen next.

I was getting so many texts throughout the lockdown, I had to turn the vibration off on my phone. Most of them were from family members asking me what was happening and a few from friends updating me on what they know and trying to reassure me that everything was going to be fine. The one text that really put me on edge was the one from my dad.

“I love you. Stay safe. I will see you soon,” is what the text read.

When I first read this, I thought he was saying goodbye, but after re-reading it a second time, I figured out  that it really meant: “Stay strong; you are smart enough to protect yourself as well as others.” I knew my dad couldn’t be with me physically, but he was with me mentally.

No one plans for any threat to happen; no one expects their day to be turned upside down; many kids genuinely weren’t scared — a lot more were.

Not everybody knew what to feel between 11:15 and 1:15 Friday. Many didn’t know how to react to what was going on, and they didn’t know what they were going to do. Nobody wants to hear about their friend, child, or relative dying on the news.

About five hours after students were released early from school campus, Fox 31 News updated their story. Reporters said that the weapon found turned out to be a BB gun.

Does this make a difference? No, it does not.

A gun is a gun and should always be treated as a loaded, deadly weapon. Just because nobody died doesn’t make this okay. The fact that someone brought a weapon into the school and posted about it on social media makes it a huge issue. Nobody should have to be faced with a challenge like the one everyone at Rangeview had.  

So why did it happen? How could anyone bring any kind of weapon into a school that has over 2,300 people in it? What can Rangeview do to be more prepared for something like this?

I understand that all staff did their best keeping everyone as safe as humanly possible, but we should be better prepared for situations like this, especially with today’s society.

Can we do something like invest in some $60 lockdown barricaders? What else can be done?

I would like to personally thank all of the Rangeview staff and the Aurora Police Department for keeping everyone safe and making sure that everyone got out safely. I would also like to thank the students who reported the Snapchat photo.

If you would like to share how you felt or just rant about your emotions anonymously, you can do so here. I highly encourage anyone and everyone to talk to a trusted adult about how you feel and the emotions you have. The Review will share and publish these ideas later this week.

If you see or hear anything suspicious, please contact a dean, counselor, or trusted adult. You can also make an anonymous report to Safe2Tell.

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