Emma Maple and McKenna Dather were in the Tiger Achievement Center (TAC) room when the announcement came over the loudspeaker.
Fremont High School Assistant Principal Myron Sikora told students the school was in a lockdown.
“We thought it was just a drill, not an actual lockdown,” Dather said.
Students soon learned the school was in a real lockdown.
Fremont Police Chief Jeff Elliott later confirmed that two suspects were found outside – approximately two blocks from the school – and taken in custody.
No shots were fired and no one was injured, but nervous parents and family members texted and talked on cell phones and waited in the Fremont Alliance Church parking lot across the street in the drizzle as darkness ensued.
After the lockdown announcement, Maple and Dather said the lights were shut out and students sat on the floor and waited for what seemed like a long time.
“We didn’t hear anything,” Dather said.
The situation proved unnerving.
“We were so nervous, we couldn’t really think,” said Maple, a freshman.
Sophomore Jorge Rivera and his friends were conditioning for soccer.
They heard Sikora’s announcement, too.
“We went to the girls’ locker room,” he said because it was the nearest safe place to go. “We were all quiet and sat down. They turned off the lights, but there were some lights that didn’t turn off.”
The students sat and were quiet for about an hour and 50 minutes, he said.
“Some of the girls were really scared and they were crying,” Rivera said. “Some were not scared and really calm.”
Officers made their way to the TAC room.
“After so long, the cops opened the door and told us to get up and put our hands up. We were walking down the hall and they told us to hold hands,” Maple said.
Dather added that students had to hold hands while walking in a straight line.
“We walked out of the doors and we came here,” said Maple as she stood near her mother, Debbie, inside the Alliance church.
Rivera and other students also waited until police knocked on the girls’ locker room door.
“We had to hold hands and then we left the building,” he said.
Once outside Rivera saw all the law enforcement vehicles and people standing in the church yard.
The Rev. Tom Nevius, senior pastor, said the church opened its doors to take in the students and parents. Students were told to put their names on a sheet. The church served coffee.
Nevius commended the students.
“The kids are doing great,” he said. “They’re handling this really well.”
Students and their siblings and parents filled the front entryway of the church.
Inside, Barbara Hernandez smiled. Her 15-year-old sister, Esmeralda, was safe.
Earlier in the evening, Barbara said she’d received a text from Esmeralda saying the school was in lockdown.
“There’s four cops outside the building,” Esmeralda texted as she sat in a locker room. “They’re looking for someone.”
Barbara texted her sister: “Turn your ringer off so you don’t make any sounds.”
Esmeralda said no one was being allowed to talk and they were in the dark.
When Barbara said their mom wanted to come to the school, Esmeralda texted back with: “No, oh my gosh, tell her to stop.”
Barbara said her sister told her the officers had guns and there were many police cars. Barbara and her mom stood in the dark on the church lawn waiting for Esmeralda to come out with other students.
Nearby, Erika Maldonado waited for word of her sister, Yadira Gamboa.
“It’s scary,” Maldonado said.
About an hour or so later, Maldonado appeared to wipe away a tear as she and other family members gathered with students inside the church.
After a while, students were told they could go with their parents or get their own vehicles and go home.
Rivera didn’t have his cell phone – it was in the school and students weren’t being allowed back inside.