Teacher Speaks After Resolving Classroom Hostage Situation
Twila Smith managed to alert police of the situation and calm the gunman down without a single shot being fired.
The West Virginia teacher that was involved in peacefully resolving a hostage situation in her classroom spoke about her experience recently.
Twila Smith started the day August 25 expecting to teach her world studies class on the second floor of Barbour High School, but things changed when a freshman walked in with a gun and ordered Smith and her 29 students to stay put.
The 14-year-old gunman pointed his weapon at Smith’s head as he instructed students to put their cell phones on the ground and cover up the windows. The gunman spent the entire period in the filled classroom threatening the class.
“He said he was going to kill people and himself and there were times when he would actually hold the gun to himself briefly and then he would, he put it on about six students,” Smith told ABC News. “And a lot of the beginning of the time [the gun] was on me.”
Smith said she tried desperately to calm the freshman down and get the students out of harm’s way.
“I just kept asking him to let everybody leave and he and I would stay, anything I could think of, just telling him that he hadn’t gone too far,” she said.
Eventually the bell rang and more students began trying to enter the classroom. Smith was able to turn the other students away and signal to a teacher to get help.
Police evacuated the school and, along with the freshman’s pastor, were able to talk the freshman into surrendering. The gunman has been charged with committing terrorist acts, 28 counts of wanton endangerment and one count of possessing a deadly weapon on the premises of an educational facility.
Smith, who admitted to thinking she would be killed, has been praised as a hero for her handling of the high pressure situation. She talked about her responsibility to keep her students safe.
“I’m in charge of them when they’re on my watch, and I hope when my kids went to school, the other people felt like that too,” Smith said. “When they walk in here, we’re protecting, we’re supposed to teach them and we’re supposed to take care of them.”
The gunman’s name has not been released as police continue to investigate the incident.
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