Taft Union school shooting: 'I don't want to die,' student says
Jacob Jackson, a sophomore at Taft Union High School, was in the campus library when the intercom crackled Thursday morning, announcing a lockdown.
"We're supposed to have a lockdown drill next week. I thought it was a drill going early," Jacob, 15, said. "I figured out it was real whenever I heard the helicopter and sirens."
Shortly after 9 a.m., a shooting was reported at the science building on the high school campus, a separate building from where Jackson and his classmates sat for more than an hour, lights off, doors locked.
"I was just thinking, 'I don't want to die,' " Jacob said.
Authorities eventually pulled the students and staff to an auditorium, but said they couldn't say what was going on. Rumors were flying, Jacob said, that someone had opened fire in a classroom.
A 16-year-old student was shot and wounded at the school, sheriff's officials said, and was in critical but stable condition. Authorities said the suspect, also a student, used a rifle and tried to shoot a second student but missed.
Panicked parents rushed to the school. Many said they feared the worst after a Dec. 14 massacre at a Newtown, Conn., elementary school that killed 20 students and six adults.
Mary Jackson, Jacob's mother, works in the school district's food service department. She was in a junior high school kitchen two blocks away when she and her co-workers were told to lock the kitchen doors.
"My first instinct is my son," Jackson said. "I started bawling and fell to the floor."
She left the building and ran to the high school, where she heard two students had been shot.
"How do I know it wasn't my son? It was horrible — I got a text from my son that said, 'I love you,' " she said. "I broke down. After about three hours, we finally got to talk."
Jackson said she's just glad her children — her daughter attends an elementary school next to Taft Union — are safe.
"It was a long, horrible, horrible feeling in my stomach that I wish on no one," she said.
— Kate Mather
Photo: Law enforcement agents outside Taft Union High School on Thursday morning. Credit: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times