Students share chilling stories of hearing gunfire in the halls of Heritage High

Newport News

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) – Two students at Heritage High School in Newport News are telling chilling stories about gunfire in the hallways of their school.

The students are also talking about what they want to see happen to help protect their school from violence in the future.

Heritage High has been closed since the shootings on Monday. Two 17-year-old students were shot, but are expected to recover. The suspect is a 15-year-old student, police said.

Temporary virtual learning started on Thursday.

“I was thinking this doesn’t happen, I never thought it could happen to me,” said DaNya Hood, a senior at
Achievable Dream High School.

Hood was at nearby Heritage High for a dual-enrollment class. A few minutes before lunch Monday morning, shots rang out.

“All of the sudden I heard a gunshot and immediately I reacted. I got under a table,” she recounted.

Taj Adkins, a junior at Heritage said, “In my class we heard one shot, and then after that we heard six more shots, or around that.”

Adkins said everyone in his fifth period class was alarmed and confused because it took a while for administrators to call a lockdown.

“A student from outside came in and he was like ‘someone’s shooting in the school,'” said Hood.

“I called my mom, dad, texted my brother because he also attends the school,” said Adkins.

“Instantly, my heart dropped,” said Shavar Bland, director of the Newport News Mayor’s Youth Commission.

Both Taj and DaNya are among about 40 Newport News high school student-members.

“We have a little chat that we have,” said Bland, “So they started to communicate with me that way, letting me know that they were alright.”

Both students say they’ll be ready to go back to classes at Heritage next Monday. Meanwhile, they’re using this time to think about the past week, and the months ahead.

“I want to know that the substitutes (teachers) know what to do in that situation ’cause after they called ‘lockdown’ my classroom was never locked,” said Adkins. He said later on, someone with a gun was able to open his classroom’s door. “Luckily it was a school official and a guard telling us to hurry out. But, what if it wasn’t?”

On the question of metal detectors, which Heritage High does have, but were not in use that day, Adkins said he supports the regular use of them to keep out weapons. DaNya agrees, but quickly added that some students would feel like they were criminals. She said, at this point, though, “you need to have some sort of safety and security to try and prevent these things.”

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