A student at the St. Louis high school where a gunman on Monday shot a student and a teacher dead described laying on the floor of a classroom in prayer while bullets ricocheted through the halls.
Zaria, a senior at Central Visual and Performing Arts High School, told Fox 2 Now that at first she didn’t believe a shooting could be happening at her school — but then she heard gunfire and it all quickly became real.
“Panic set in to my heart,” Zaria told the local station. “We had kids who were crying… I couldn’t get up to defend myself because the gunshots were coming too close.”
Zaria was inside a counselor’s office around 9:10 a.m. when the gunman, later identified by police as 19-year-old Orlando Harris, opened fire with a long gun and reportedly shouted “You’re all going to f–king die!”
A student ran into the counselor’s room and yelled that someone was shooting and then the school principal said the code word to signal an active shooter was in the building over the intercom, she said.
Zaria said they pushed a large bookcase in front of the door as gunshots rang out outside the room.
She recorded audio of the gunfire with her phone as she prayed on the floor of the room.
“My teacher told me to lay down on the floor so that’s what I did until the police officers came and got us,” Zaria told Fox 2.
Officers arrived at the school within four minutes of receiving the call of the active shooter and opened fire on the suspect, killing him by 9:25 p.m., police said.
“While I was in there, I held onto my Jesus piece and prayed,” Zaria said. “Because there was nothing else I could do but pray.”
Zaria’s mother told the local station that she had just dropped off her other daughter at the school a half hour before the shooting.
She received a frantic phone call from her younger daughter “screaming and crying” that there was a shooter in the school.
“Now it’s hit home for me — for all the school shootings that I have seen on TV — it’s unreal,” she said. “I just got up here as soon as I could. Thank god they’re okay.”
Student Alexis Bell, 16, and physical education teacher Jean Kuczka, 61, were both killed in the bloody rampage. Seven others were wounded.