June 18, 2024 The Best Source of News, Culture, Lifestyle for Culver City, Mar Vista, Del Rey, Palms and West Los Angeles

The Santa Monica Shooting – Eyewitness Report

Santa Monica College Barricade
I arrived on campus at 10:30 in the morning—I was supposed to meet my friend to study before our Cultural Anthropology final at noon. She didn’t actually arrive at the library until 11:40, the time I told her I was going to start making my way to the classroom in Drescher Hall. I decided to stay as long as possible at the library to help her study, provided I didn’t miss the final I had prepared so well for.

At 11:57 I checked my phone to see the time, and started packing my things in the library. I didn’t want to be late for my final all the way across campus, so I quickly whispered “good luck†to my friend and made my way out of the library towards my final exam. I didn’t realize it at the time, but “good luck†had another meaning that day.

Once past the library doors, I ran to Drescher Hall, not knowing I was also running from the approaching shooter. I must have arrived at my classroom on the second floor of Drescher Hall a minute after noon—my professor was already distributing final exams to the rest of the class.

As I started my exam, I heard shouting from outside, and the loud buzz of a helicopter. I couldn’t hear exactly what was being said, but my professor told the class to ignore these distractions—President Obama was in the area, and the commotion was probably related to his presence—as he closed the classroom’s windows.

Though the shouting continued, I took my professor’s advice, and focused on completing my final. I finally finished and walked my exam up to my professor at 1:30. He motioned to me “come closer,†and whispered in my ear, “There’s a shooter on campus; we are on lockdown. Sit down and text your family that you are okay.â€

At first, I wasn’t worried. There had been a couple of bomb threats and lockdowns at Santa Monica College within the past month and a half (neither of which I was present for). Both had been contained by authorities within an hour of the initial threat, and neither produced any injuries. I picked up my phone to see several texts from my family, which was expected, and less expected, from my friend whom I had just left in the library. I had no idea of the magnitude of the situation until I read her text messages.

“Jennifer, are you safe,†read the text she sent me at 12:54 pm. “Yes! I’m fine. I’m on lockdown. Are you good?!†I replied at 1:32. “No. I was still in the library. I saw everything. I jumped from the stairs. Jennifer it was right after you left.â€

For the next hour and half that we were on lockdown (me: in the classroom, and her: in a room outside the library she was taken to after the shooting) my friend continued to be my source of information on the shooting, telling me everything.

This was real, not a threat, it happened in the library, multiple people had been shot, and I had just missed the shooter.
Once all my classmates had completed their exams (and were aware of the situation), my professor placed a trashcan in the classroom’s closet, and announced it as the bathroom, in case “anyone had to really go.â€
We were not allowed to leave, and had no idea how long we’d be stuck in lockdown. We waited hours for notice of a police escort out of the building, and swapped stories and information on what had just happened. There were theories of a second shooter or accomplice still on campus, or that it was two separate assailants with two motives, who just happened to be in the same place at the same time.

When SWAT finally arrived after 3 o’clock, I noticed the barricade of desks my professor had built against the classroom door to protect us from the shooter. After a couple minutes of arguing with those outside the door about having a key to the classroom (trying to determine if they were really police, or the shooter attempting to enter), my professor disassembled the barricade, throwing back desks as we gathered our things.

The door opened to about five SWAT agents, who barked at us to exit the classroom with our hands in the air and line up facing the hallway, with our hands against the wall and our bags behind us. As my professor confronted them about having a key to confirm they were police (there was no opening under the door to slide badges), the SWAT agents went down the line rigorously frisking students, and checking our bags for concealed weapons.

After being frisked, and having my bag searched, I asked the SWAT agent about suspicions of a second shooter, to which he confirmed. My classmates and I were then escorted though the hall, down the stairs, and out of Drescher Hall by a SWAT officer, who took us to Pico and 18th, and went back to join her fellow officers in evacuating the rest of the building and campus.

As my cell phone drained in battery from the day’s communications, I called my mom to notify her of my safety and location. I waited with classmates and fellow students also evacuated to the area, as I looked out upon the empty street, filled only with caution tape, cop cars, news trucks, and photographers.

While my experience was ending upon reaching my family at 4 o’clock—and my phone at 4% battery—others were not so lucky. Some were shot, some were wounded, some were witnesses, and all were affected by the day’s tragic events.

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