Thursday’s shooting at Aztec High School in northern New Mexico could have been much worse if it had not been for the brave and level-headed actions of a substitute teacher who happened to be there on that day.
According to Fox News, when Katie Potter heard the gun going off in the hallway, she knew she had to act quickly to hide her 17 students. She immediately followed lockdown procedures.
“I heard popping sounds down the hall, going pop, pop, pop. I looked in the hall and the custodian, Hill, was in the hall and he was saying, who are you? I could tell he was frantic and I knew what was going on,” Potter said.
Two students lost their lives in the shooting. Potter knew both of them, describing Francisco Fernandez and Casey Marquez as popular, all-American students. Fernandez was in Potter’s classroom when he asked to use the bathroom. He signed out and left the classroom.
When he opened the bathroom door, the shooter was standing inside with his gun loaded. He immediately killed Fernandez.
“He walked into the bathroom and saved lives,” said New Mexico State Police Chief Pete Kassetas. “If not, the shooter would have walked into a classroom. That kid’s a hero.”
As the shooting commenced in the halls, Potter shepherded her students into the classroom office. Once they got inside, they pushed a sofa against the door and laid on the floor, as customary during a lockdown procedure. Some students were scared.
“They knew they were in serious danger and some of them said, ‘I don’t want to die,’” said Potter. “And I said, ‘You know what? You’re going to be OK.”
As the shooter came down the hall, he found the students in the classroom with Potter. He tried to get in but couldn’t, due to the sofa barricaded against it. Then he shot through the walls but somehow miraculously missed all the students.
“I heard pop, pop, pop for probably four or five minutes and he was right outside the door. And I knew that he was shooting everything up,” said Potter.
Once the Sheriff’s department arrived they yelled out. Potter knew that it was safe to open the door.
“I told the secretary who called me this morning, I said, if you need somebody Monday, I’ll be there,” said Potter.
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