Parents grateful for police response, warning calls before Richmond school shooting

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RICHMOND, Ind. (WTHR) - Traci Vecera looked on as they fixed glass broken during Friday morning's school shooting at Dennis Intermediate School. And she cried.

“I seen the police get their guns and ran towards the door," said Vecera.

She had a grandson in the school.

“I’m scared to death. I almost threw up. It’s terrifying for all the kids and the police officers who were involved, she said.

Neighbors say they heard the first three shots at 8:25.

“Gunshots, he heard," Vecera said, referring to her grandson. "I think it was the shooter hollering to let him in. I don’t know whether he pounded on the door or not. Teachers kept them all inside the room, told them to be quiet.

“(I) heard a series of like four shots," said Tony Lang, who lives down the street. “Saw the first cop car arrive on scene.“

We spoke with three students who talked to us with permission of their parents.

"I heard gunshots and people think he was yelling and the cops yelling 'get down and staydown.' They were telling us to get under our computer desks and stay under there till it was over. Our teachers were helping us, like the kids who were crying and scared. They would calm them down.“

And there was this chilling text exchange between a woman and her daughter:

“Mom there’s police and there were gunshots. I’m shaking and I’m scared.“

“I’m coming. You OK?”

“Yes I’m good."

"So you know it’s real?”

"There’s yelling. Mom I love you, I’m scared.“

“Breathe. “

“I am. I can’t call.”

One student’s dad heard it all on police scanners at his towing company.

“When I heard it, my heart sank and I started getting calls from other families,“ said Kevin Johnson. “Prayers. I felt sorry for the kids in the family that lost one. And then I feel sorry for the mother who had to turn her son in.“

Some parents told us they were grateful for the quick police response.

The shooter forced a male relative to drive him to school, according to witnesses. They also say his mother called to warn police the teen was on the way with a gun.

For a grandmother with three kids in classrooms just feet where the shooting happened, it was an unbelievable morning.

“She had to know when she made the call that there was always the risk she would lose a child," said Lori Sorenson. "I appreciate her sacrificing so much and she’s in my prayers."

A student we talked with agreed.

“Thank God nobody was hurt,” he said. “But what if no one tipped off the police saying he was coming? Someone could’ve easily been shot.“

“I’m worried that I’m just gonna be scared to go to school because I had a feeling something like this could happen to our school and it did happen," said another student from the school.

On Thursday night, three young people held a small quiet demonstration outside the school. They're seeking more mental health intervention and responsible gun laws. Their sign reads "Jeremy spoke in class today." It's from a Pearl Jam song in which a troubled kid takes his life in a classroom.

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