Substitute teacher Kathleen Potter (pictured) and custodian Thomas Hill are being hailed heroes for preventing even further casualties during Thursday’s school shooting in New Mexico
A substitute teacher and a custodian are being hailed heroes for preventing even further casualties during Thursday’s school shooting in New Mexico.
According to San Juan Sheriff Ken Christesen, custodian Thomas Hill ran around Aztec High School yelling for people to lock down.
Meanwhile substitute teacher Kathleen ‘Katie’ Potter. When Potter heard the shots being fired, she knew she had to hide the 17 students in her classroom.
‘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 told Fox News.
Football player Francisco Fernandez and cheerleader Casey Marquez were killed after 21-year-old William Atchison entered the high school, posing as a student, and shot them dead.
Potter described the two victims both as popular, all-American students – with Fernandez actually being in her class that morning.
He asked Potter if he could go to the bathroom, signed out and never came back. When Fernandez opened the bathroom door, Atchison was standing inside with his gun loaded and shot him dead.
‘He walked into that bathroom and saved lives. If not, the shooter would have walked into a classroom. That kid’s a hero,’ said New Mexico State Police Chief Pete Kassetas.
After hearing shots, Potter (pictured) ordered her 17 students into the classroom’s office. They got inside, barricaded the door with a sofa and laid on the floor
Meanwhile, Hill ran around Aztec High School (pictured) yelling for people to lock down on Thursday morning
After hearing shots, Potter ordered her students into the classroom’s office. They got inside, barricaded the door with a sofa and laid on the floor.
‘They knew they were in serious danger and some of them said, ‘I don’t want to die.’ And I said: “You know what? You’re going to be OK”,’ said Potter.
Atchison found the students in the room with Potter. He tried to get in but couldn’t because of the sofa barricading the door. Then he shot through the walls but miraculously never hit anyone.
‘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.
Eventually Potter heard the Sheriff’s department yell out. She opened the door and knew they were safe.
Gunman William Atchison, 21, found Potter and her students in the office but couldn’t get in because of the sofa
Atchison killed football player Francisco Fernandez (left) after he left Potter’s class to go the restroom. He then walked into the hallway and killed cheerleading captain Casey Jordan-Marquez (right)
She doesn’t consider herself a hero but says the students and other teachers are the real heroes. She also said she’ll be back substituting as soon as possible.
‘I told the secretary who called me this morning, I said, if you need somebody Monday, I’ll be there,’ said Potter.
According to officials, Atchison carried out the massacre with a Glock 9mm handgun he had purchased in November, and he left behind writings indicating that he had been planning the shooting for some time.
Christesen told reporters his investigators have recovered a thumb drive with a manifesto penned by the 21-year-old, in which he laid out his deadly plan.
Investigators have recovered a thumb drive with this note penned by Atchison indicating that he had been planning the shooting for some time
Police also found this torn note in Atchison’s room with a ‘to-do’ list for Thursday, which ends with the word ‘die’
The expletive-filled message, written at 6.51am on Thursday, opened with the words: ‘if things go according to plan, today would be when I die.
‘I’d go somewhere, gear up, then hold a class hostage and go apes**t, then blow my brains out.’
The note, which was recovered from the USB drive found on Atchison’s body, also read: ‘work sucks, school sucks, life sucks. I just want out of this s**t.’
‘He’s not only a coward, he’s evil. In my mind there’s so many things wrong with this. It’s a shame he wasn’t on our radar. I don’t think he had anything so much as a traffic ticket,’ said Christensen.