"Shots Reported on Campus. Run, Hide, Fight."
No one wants to see this message pop up on their phone, but for the students at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, it was their reality. Late Tuesday afternoon a male assailant opened fire in a classroom in the Kennedy building on campus, killing two and leaving four injured.
Tuesday was supposed to be the last day of class. There was supposed to be a free concert later that evening as a celebration of everyone's hard work before time to study for exams. Instead, it ended in chaos with students fearing for their lives and sending "goodbye" texts to loved ones.
Students were barricaded in classrooms and dorm rooms wondering if their next breath would be their last.
Even though as I write this article, it has been close to 24 hours since the shooting happened, the shock still remains. I was blessed enough to not be on campus and was out enjoying what I thought was going to be a relaxing dinner. But despite not being there when it happened, I could still feel the panic from miles away.
Panicking, I texted friends to make sure that they were safe. Most of them responded instantly but when some of them didn't respond immediately I feared the worst. Friends began to frantically text me because I had forgotten to tell them that I was home until my first exam next week.
While I may not be graduating from UNCC, it was and will always be a part of me. It was my freshman year of college. This attack was an attack on me, my friends, and all of Niner Nation.
Students shouldn't have to fear that their classroom will soon become a shooting range.
We are all still in shock and trying to process what has happened. A peaceful day turned horribly wrong because of an act of violence. Two lives lost and four injured. Two lives who will never get to graduate or have a future because of the heinous acts of one person. The students in the classroom it happened in now face the possibility of having survivors guilt.
They wonder why they were spared and while others weren't, feeling guilty for being alive. Countless others are left traumatized by what has happened. They fear to return back to campus and their classrooms.
No student should have to fear for their lives when getting their education. No one should fear for their lives when going to watch a movie. No one should have to fear that they are going to be massacred when they walk out their front door.
This was a devastating attack, but like the sun we will rise.
Take your time to grieve, be angry, be sad, whatever you are feeling take your time. Your feelings and emotions are valid, your anger is justified. DO NOT let anyone tell you how to feel during this time; your feelings are just as valid as anyone else's.
Surround yourself with a strong community. Unite with all of Niner Nation during this time and lean on each other.
Remember the victim Riley Howell, a 21-year-old environmental science major from Waynesville, NC who bravely jumped on the shooter, saving many lives but losing his in the process.
Remember the victim Ellis "Reed" Parlier, a 19-year-old from Midland, NC who also lost his life in the shooting.
Keep the families of the victims in your thoughts and prayers, as well as the injured students and those who now must process the trauma that they have been through. DO NOT remember the name of the shooter, as spreading his name is what he wants.
He wants to be remembered for what he did. He wants to be glorified. Do not give him this power. As the sun sets on UNC Charlotte tonight and the candlelight vigil takes place I leave you with this;