LOWELLVILLE, Ohio (WKBN) – The situation quickly turned inside the Lowellville School Thursday. Students said every second seemed like a minute, and every minute seemed like an hour waiting to hear what was going on.
Parents were rushing to the scene as word was spread around the community about the shooting.
Inside during the lockdown, Livia Laudermilt had sent her mother a text.
“Mom, active shooter, I love you and Dad, don’t call my cell phone,” reads Angel Laudermilt, her mother.
“I was not even expecting to text you that today or ever. So I was terrified. Even 1 second felt like 10 minutes, like just waiting to hear what was happening,” said Livia.
Matthew Sotlar was inside, too. The school was having active shooter training Thursday morning, but it turned into a real situation.
“I heard it sounded like popcorn. And then I just saw someone run down the hallway. But I think it was really when the intercom came on and they just said it wasn’t a drill, it was real,” said Sotlar.
Sotlar said it set in quick that something was wrong here.
“I was scared. I was terrified. I thought I was going to die,” he continued.
Word was spreading outside. The situation eventually calmed down inside, and parents were rushing to the school and waiting for their children to be released.
One man had nine children inside. He was glad the situation had ended.
There were emotional reunions each time another group of children came out, plenty of hugs and kisses, as families reassembled.
“Oh, it was great. I was glad to see that she was safe. That was, like, the worst thing ever. Yeah, they were terrified. So were we,” said Ashley Zimmerman, the mother of a student.
“My heart was sinking. I just needed to see her and know that she was OK. And it was absolutely the best feeling to put my arms around her,” continued Angel Laudermilt, Livia’s mother.
According to a letter from the school, student drivers with cars on school premises that need their keys can come Friday to pick them up between 8 a.m. to noon, or from 1 to 3 p.m. Per police order, student drivers will be escorted into the building by a police officer to get their keys. No other belongings will be released. School officials will let the student body know when their personal belongings can be received.
According to the letter, Lowellville students who attend MCCTC will need to have their own transportation for Friday.
Thomas says classes have been canceled for Friday. Instead, grief counseling teams from around the area will be on campus offering help to students, staff and community members who need it. This will be available from 8 a.m. to noon and 1 to 4 p.m.
Superintendent Dr. Geno Thomas said that anyone coming can enter through the main entrance into the library.
Friday morning, reaction was pouring in on social media. Other schools in our community are really rallying behind Lowellville. Nearby Campbell Memorial said on Twitter that they are sending prayers. Officials at Champion are sending strength. Others said that there are no words, but that: “We stand with you.”
Dr. Thomas thanked the entire Lowellville community and first responders for their patience, support, cooperation, thoughts and prayers.