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Oregon college shooting: ‘I was so terrified for my life and I was shaking’

Hours after a gunman burst into a rural Oregon community college and opened fire Thursday, survivors were telling their stories of terror. At least nine people were killed and seven more wounded, authorities say. The attacker died in a gun battle with police.

Ana Boylan

Ana Boylan, 18, was in a classroom when a gunman entered and shot her professor, she recounted to family members.

Boylan, who started attending Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Ore., this week, was shot in the back, her grandmother Janet Willis told the Los Angeles Times. A girl standing next to her was shot too, Willis said.

“They just laid on the ground and pretended they were dead,” Willis recalled her granddaughter telling her and other family members.

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Boylan tearfully recounted her ordeal from a hospital bed after she’d been airlifted to a Eugene hospital. Boylan told her grandmother she heard the gunman ask others in the classroom to rise and state their religion. “If they said they were Christians, they were shot again,” Willis said.

Boylan’s family didn’t know where she was for hours, Willis said. Then they learned that she was alive and had been airlifted to the hospital. Willis raced to Boylan’s hospital bed and found her in tears and wincing with pain.

“I think she was very much in shock and very scared,” Willis said in a phone interview. “She was in pain. She was pretty frightened.”

Doctors later performed surgery to remove a bullet from her spinal column, Willis said.

“They have completed surgery and they think they got the bullet out,” Willis said. “If nothing else goes wrong, there’s a good prospect of her recovering.”

Boylan’s parents and immediate family members are spending the night in Eugene, Willis said, and she and her husband returned home to let her granddaughter rest and take care of their pets.

“I know how hard it is for young people to go through something like this,” Willis said. “That concerns all parents, I think.”

Cassandra Welding

Cassandra Welding, 20, was in writing class at a computer lab. The professor had stepped out to retrieve some papers for students, Welding said, when she heard a noise from the room next door.

“It sounded like a balloon popped … and then five seconds later I heard it again,” she said in an interview. “We knew something wasn’t right.”

When a classmate walked to the door and opened it to peek outside, she was shot, Welding said.

“She was halfway in the doorway, and the door was still open,” Welding said. “We were screaming, ‘Close the door! Close the door!’”

Another classmate dragged the woman inside the room and locked the door and someone else turned off the lights. Students performed CPR on the woman, who Welding said looked as though she had been shot in the torso.

“I kept hearing that noise, one after another,” Welding said. “I probably heard about 40.”

The students crawled along the floor, she said. Gathering in the back right corner of the classroom, the farthest from the door.

“I was so terrified for my life and I was shaking,” Welding recalled.

Someone called 911. Welding got on the phone with her mother. Blood covered the walls near the student who’d been shot, Welding said, and her broken glasses lay on the floor.

“Hey, Mom, there’s a shooting at school,” she told her mother, whispering because she was afraid the shooter could come in at any minute. “I just heard other people in tears, crying, calling their loved ones and telling them, ‘I love you,’” Welding said. “It was such a heart-wrenching thing.”

After a while, Welding said, she heard officers burst in next door, yelling, “Get down! Get down!”

Two more gunshots rang out, Welding said. Then nothing.

Minutes later, she said, police and SWAT team members entered the classroom to say everything was OK.

“It’s just horrific that this had to happen again,” Welding said. “The community is such a small community and everyone’s either friends or family.”

Twitter: @cmaiduc


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