‘I need to see my babies.’ Parents reunite with kids after fatal Arlington school shooting
At the Arlington school district’s Athletics Center on Monday morning, parents sat anxiously waiting in their vehicles for their kids to be released and reunited with them after a shooting killed one student and injured another on the Lamar High School campus.
Buses full of students from Lamar began arriving at the Athletics Center, at 1001 E. Division St., before noon. Parents stood outside the center in a line that spanned around its driveway twice as school officials brought them clipboards with paperwork to fill out before they entered the building. And one by one, students emerged with their parents.
Freshman Tay Gibson had just gotten off the bus to go to school when he and other students were urgently directed into the side entrance and into the building, he said. There was bustling and yelling, and he was ushered into a classroom.
“It was just weird because we didn’t know what was going on,” Tay said. “It didn’t feel like a lockdown.”
As he sat in that random classroom, he said, he didn’t think anything. To Tay, it was just another day.
But his mother, Shoney Gibson, said there may have been some fear. Tay texted her and asked her what her latest memories were of him.
Shoney didn’t think anything like this would happen at any Arlington school, or Lamar for that matter.
“To me, it’s getting a little too close for comfort,” she said.
It’s also Tay’s first year at a public school after transferring from a charter school. The violence Monday had Shoney wondering if she had made the right decision for her son.
Police said a teenage suspect is in custody but have not publicly identified the shooter or a motive for the shooting. Police said that a male student who was critically injured later died at a hospital, and a female student had a non-life-threatening injury. The girl’s cheek was grazed by a bullet and she was taken to a hospital by a parent, authorities said.
The shooting occurred just outside the school about 6:55 a.m., before all students had arrived. Classes were scheduled to start at 7:35 a.m. after a week off for spring break. Lamar has about 2,500 students.
Noelani Felton, a sophomore at Lamar, said she saw a police car whiz past her bus as she got to school, and just like Tay, as soon as she arrived she was shoved into a random classroom as the school went on lockdown.
Her mother, Crystal McMillon, remembers getting two calls from Noelani as the events unfolded.
“She’s out of breath and she was like, ‘Mom, come get me, come get me,’” McMillon said. “And she said there was a shooting at the school.”
McMillon said she heard intercom broadcasts during her daughter’s calls telling students to get into any classroom they could and to stay there.
Noelani said she wasn’t nervous, but overwhelmed.
McMillon waited in a nearby CVS Pharmacy parking lot for three hours and in line at the Athletics Center for an hour before she reunited with Noelani.
Aurora Gacia has a 15- and 16-year-old who attend Lamar. She said she saw the police arrest someone at the school when she dropped her children off Monday morning but she didn’t know what had happened. She later got a text from her daughter telling her the school was on lockdown.
As she waited for her kids at the reunification point, she said she was feeling scared.
Dena Rambo has 15-year-old twins who are freshmen at Lamar. She dropped her children off at the school Monday morning and as she turned corners to leave, she saw police cars, fire trucks and ambulances. Rambo texted her kids to make sure they were OK, and five minutes later got a message about the lockdown from the school district.
Rambo was still texting back and forth with her kids as she waited in the Athletics Center parking lot and had talked to her daughter on the phone.
She never thought something like this would happen at her kids’ school.
“I’m just looking forward to getting them in the car,” Rambo said. “But I’ve been praying a lot and I know God’s in control.”
Venetia Wilson got a text from her daughter, a junior at Lamar, that something had happened at the school that morning, but her daughter told her not to come to the school because she knew whatever had happened took place outdoors.
Wilson works at the school district’s print shop and turned around to come to the reunification center as soon as she found out it was where she could pick up her daughter and niece, who’s a freshman.
With everything going on in the world, a shooting happening at Lamar was something Wilson knew could be in the realm of possibility. She said she knew the district was prepared in case anything like this did happen.
“I need to see my babies,” Wilson said. “I need to put my arms around them.”
Jordan Caver’s freshman daughter got caught in the lockdown as she went to Lamar to catch a bus to classes at Arlington Collegiate, where she takes associate degree classes.
Caver said his wife had gotten a text from their daughter about what had happened at the school at 7:08 that morning.
They immediately became anxious, and they still were as they waited for their daughter in the parking lot.
“We knew that if she was texting us, she was OK,” Caver said. “It’s still unnerving.”
All students were bused to the Athletics Center, regardless of how they arrived at school on Monday, including students who drove themselves to school.
Classes and other activities at Lamar have been canceled for Tuesday. School officials said counselors will be on campus when students return on Wednesday.