NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — David Olivis never expected the fight of his life to happen inside a school hallway.
The Heritage High School teacher is also a boxing coach and the owner of C4 Boxing Club in Chesapeake.
“I’m a hard-nosed coach,” Olivis said. “All my fighters feel invincible when we’re finished.”
As you might imagine, Olivis doesn’t shy away from a fight. He’s the one you want in your corner when you find yourself on the ropes — the same way his students did on September 20, 2021, when a shooting happened inside a school hallway.
“I was going from lunch back to my classroom, and I heard a pop,” Olivis said.
“It was different. I saw scattering. In a fight, everybody runs to a fight scene, ya know? But a pop — everyone goes away. I saw that and I just kind of darted forward,” Olivis said.
As any good boxer will tell you, many matches are won not by knockout, but by decision. The surveillance video shows the decision Olivis made to go after the shooter.
“Seconds matter in something like that. When I saw the students interlocked and tussling, I just ran to them, pushed them on the ground and I pulled them apart. I was trying to figure out where the pop came from,” Olivis said.
“I’m trying to figure out the situation,” he said. “Like, ‘Okay, there’s a gun here, but I don’t know where.'”
Seconds later, he found that gun.
“I saw the gun go up and the shots go off, I ducked and ran and fell. I had six seconds to make 20 decisions,” he said.
“I was hauling butt trying to get to the hallway, there were 400 kids in the hallway at that time, so I’m looking through the crowd and I see another student pull up. I knew immediately, she was hit,” he said.
Olivis struggled with what to do next, unsure if he should chase down the shooter or help the students in front of him.
“When somebody’s bleeding like that in front of you, you have cost analysis. You’ve got two bleeding kids, you got screaming, you got pandemonium — you still have unknown danger,” he said.
In a moment where so many of us might break down, Olivis tells 10 On Your Side it was boxing that prepared him to stand up.
“In boxing, you learn how to control your emotions. You literally are getting punched in the face and you still have to make decisions,” he said.
Olivis was able to help both students. He put a tourniquet on one student’s leg and helped get the other to the EMS workers outside.
“I feel like I did the best that I could but it still feels like not enough,” he said.
Never one to throw in the towel, lessons learned that day have only reinforced his straight-from-the-shoulder approach to teaching, boxing and life.
“Life happens, but what you do about it determines what kind of life you get to have. The decisions we make determine what life we get to have,” he said.