Teenworthy: A Shooting at My School

A high school student recounts a day of fear

Editor's note: Read Jacob's mom's version of the story here.

“Drop what’s in your hands and get on the ground!”

Photo by Mike Licht via Flickr Creative Commons

Terror shot down my spine, but I did what I was told, my Driver’s Ed papers scattering out of the folder as they landed on the asphalt.

Just minutes before, my dad had dropped me off not far from my school. It was a Saturday, and I had to be at a rehearsal for our winter musical, Fiddler on the Roof. We had been almost to the entrance of the parking lot when we were stopped by an empty police car across the road, blocking it. Looking back, this was an obvious mistake.

But before you judge our stupidity too harshly you have to know that I live in Issaquah, a sleepy suburb outside of Seattle, where generally the only excitement is the annual Salmon Days festival that celebrates the return of the salmon. Seriously, it’s a festival for fish. So as you can imagine, I was not expecting that I would soon have two cops pointing their guns at me. 

As I got out of my dad’s truck and walked onto campus, around the cop car and through the bus loop, I noticed a few guys over in the parking lot, dressed in sweatpants and beanies, ducking down in between cars. This seemed odd to me, but I didn’t find it alarming, I just shrugged it off and kept walking.

As I reached the middle of the bus loop, I heard the police officer shout to me from across the parking lot. Seconds later I was face down on the ground. A lump formed in the back of my throat. I was completely helpless, like a child who swam too far from shore, floundering in the middle of my sea of asphalt without anyone to pull me back to safety or protect me.

I looked down at my clothes, instantly regretting the choice of a neon green T-shirt. I felt like an easy target, brilliant green in the middle of the gray bus loop.

I felt my phone vibrating in my pocket as I looked back at the police officers across the parking lot near my brothers’ elementary school. I chose not to take my phone out, afraid that they would think I was reaching for a weapon.

I lay my head down and looked toward my school on my right. I stared at the building, expecting that at any moment a gunman would emerge. My mind filled with questions: Is someone going to shoot me from the roof of my school? Will I ever see my family again?

Am I going to die today?

The officers soon shouted to me that everything was fine, that they were coming to get me soon. This eased my fear slightly, but not by much. I ended up laying in that bus loop for what felt like hours, but was probably only 20 minutes before the police came over to me, ducking from car to car, patted me down and then sent me walking away, leaving my Driver’s Ed papers behind.

I eventually regained contact with my parents, who had been frantically searching for me on foot nearby. A few days later when I was back at school, my counselor called me into her office. She asked me how I was feeling after the incident. I didn’t know what to say, only that this shouldn’t have happened. This isn’t something that kids and teens at school should have to deal with. Why did it have to happen to me?

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