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‘Could have been a lot of lives lost today’: Newport News parents react to school shooting

Posted at 10:28 PM, Sep 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-20 23:17:40-04

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. – Sounds of panic and utter confusion were captured in a frantic mother’s cellphone video Monday morning. One student can be heard crying.

Dominic, a ninth grader, described the disturbing scene inside Heritage High School. He said it was just after lunch and was leaving the cafeteria as gunfire rang out.

“You hear like five or six more shots go off, so everybody started running out of the school, running in the hallway,” he said.

The shooting left two teens hurt.

“We heard two shots; we thought somebody was banging on something, so we didn’t take it serious,” said high school student Mildred Townsend. “The teacher walked to the door; that's what he let off, like, six more shots. People started running.”

Parents experienced a range of emotions.

“To have to go to school and go through this - this should not happen,” one parent said. “This should not happen.”

Many parents received phone calls and text messages from their children.

“She just kept calling me, so I called her back,” said the parent of a ninth grader. “She was screaming and crying, saying, 'They’re shooting in the school.'”

Families were in fear over the unimaginable. They rushed to the school to pick up their child.

“My heart dropped; my mouth fell wide open, and I just started praying and started driving fast to get here,” one father said.

Mother Kizzy Cooper told News 3 Huntington Middle School students, including her son, were also in the building for class as their school undergoes renovations.

Cooper’s 12-year-old son, Kedar, was distraught.

“He called me and texted me and said, ‘Mom, it’s real. There’s a shooting going on,’” Cooper said. “He was crying a little bit. You could hear the shakiness in his voice and [he was] pretty much scared. He said he heard the gunshots, but he wasn't sure what it was.”

Related: Mental health services provided after Heritage High School shooting

After a search of the high school, police quickly evacuated the building room by room.

“Then the next thing you know, the police were there, and they escorted them out to safety,” said Cooper.