The shooting Thursday morning at the Aztec high School in northern New Mexico could have been significantly worse had it not been for the heroes who locked the school down and the police officers who rushed inside.
There were two heroes in particular, to San Juan Shereiff Ken Christesen. The one is a custodian, Thomas Hill, who ran around the school yelling for people to lock. The other is a substitute teacher Katie Potter. When Potter heard the shots being fired, she knew she had to hide for the 17 students in her class.
“I heard popping sounds down the hall, the pop, pop, pop. I looked in the hall and the custodian, the Hill, was in the hall and he said: who are you? I could tell he was frantic, and I knew what was going on,” said Potter.
Potter knew both victims, Francisco Fernandez and Casey Marquez. She described them both so popular, all-American students.
Fernandez, however, was in her class that morning. He asked Potter if he could go to the bathroom, signed and never came back. As Fernandez opened the door of the bathroom, the gunman was inside with his gun loaded.
“He ran into that bathroom and saved lives. If not, the shooter would have walked in a classroom. That boy is a hero,” said New Mexico State Police Chief Pete Kassetas.
Potter is told that all children receive in the classroom. They came in, pushed the couch against the door, and laid on the floor. Then they waited.
The students were quiet, as they were trained to be in a lockdown, according to Potter. But some were afraid.
“They knew that they were in danger and some of them said: I do not want to die. And I said: you know what, you’ll do well,” said Potter.
The shooter found the students in the room with Potter. He tried to get up, but couldn’t because of the bank barricading the door. Then he shot through the walls, but miraculously never against someone.
“I heard pop, pop, pop, for probably four or five minutes, and he was right outside the door. And I knew that he would shoot everything,” said Potter.
Eventually, Potter heard the Sheriff ‘ s department, yell. She opened the door and knew that they were safe.
She does not consider herself a hero, but says that the students and other teachers are the real heroes. She also said that she will see to it as soon as possible.
“I told the secretary who called me this morning, I said, if you need someone Monday, I will be there,” said Potter.
Christesen said Friday the shooter left a note saying that he hated life wanted to go to the school to die, and as many students as he could with him.
“Not only is he a coward, he is evil. In my mind there are so many things wrong with this. It is a pity that he is not on our radar. I don’t think he had anything so much as a speeding ticket,” says Christensen.
Ray Bogan is a Fox News multimedia reporter based in El Paso, Texas. Follow him on twitter: @RayBogan