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Saugus High School teacher and students recount the horrifying moment of the shooting

Saugus High School students
Saugus High School students reunite with their parents at a park after Thursday’s shooting.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

Saugus High School choir teacher Kaitlin Holt and her students were listening to a group recording when several students burst into the classroom, saying they heard gunshots.

“It was just fight or flight,” said Holt, 26. “I didn’t have time to think of anything except of survival for my students.”

She immediately locked and barricaded the door with a piano, while ushering the more than three dozen students into a nearby office.

Authorities said a 16-year-old boy fatally shot two fellow students and wounded three others before turning the gun on himself.

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One of the students who had warned the others about the gunfire told Holt that she thought she may have been hurt.

“Her adrenaline was so high she didn’t know she had been shot,” Holt said.

The girl, a freshman, had been shot on her right side and on her left shoulder. Holt, who months earlier had watched a tutorial on how to use a gunshot wound kit, retrieved the kit and wrapped the girl’s wound on her right side while putting pressure on the shoulder wound.

One student alerted police about the wounded girl, while another guarded the door with a fire extinguisher.

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Eddie Mendoza, a senior at the school, said the students and their teacher sat in silence until the wounded girl said, “Excuse me, I think I’ve been shot.”

He said everyone began to cry and panic.

After Holt examined the girl, who had been shot twice, she left the office to get the first aid kit, which was in the classroom, Mendoza said.

“My teacher bravely went outside to the classroom,” Mendoza said. “She went straight to work. She’s a hero, honestly.”

As the teacher treated the victim’s wounds, Mendoza said, the teenage girl kept saying: “I just want my mom here. I just want my mom.”

Holt reassured her that should would be OK and that she was going to make it.

“It was definitely a heartbreaking moment,” Mendoza said. Several people called 911 multiple times, “begging them to come,” he said.

“I never thought this was going to happen to us,” Mendoza said.

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After about 20 minutes, the police arrived and told the students they could leave the room.

Holt said she was shaken by the experience, but that it won’t deter her from teaching.

“I just don’t think this should be part of my job,” she said.


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