First responders heard about their own children's school shooting through work radios

by: The Associated Press and KIRO 7 Staff Updated:

Some of the first responders who went to the high school shooting near Spokane, Wash., were parents of students at the school, Spokane Fire Chief Brian Schaeffer said.

The found out about the shooting from their police radios, he said.

“Our firefighters and law enforcement officers, we’re going to spend a lot of time with them …  Even our state troopers … they have kids who go to school here. They got the news on the radio their kids were in an active shooter situation … That’s a lot to take from a first responders’ perspective … It’s going to be a while before they recover," said Schaeffer. 

One person was dead and at least three others were wounded after a shooter opened fire Wednesday at Freeman High School. Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich said at the scene that the shooter was in custody.


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Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center and Children's Hospital received three pediatric patients, spokeswoman Nicole Stewart said. They were in stable condition, and family members were with them, she said.

Freeman High is in the town of Rockford, about a 30-minute drive southeast of Spokane and a roughly five-hour drive east from Seattle, near the Idaho border.

Worried parents rushed to the school in the town of about 500 people near the Idaho border, about 25 miles southeast of Spokane. The two-lane road into town was clogged as people sped to the school.

Cheryl Moser said her son, a freshman at Freeman High School, called her from a classroom after hearing shots fired.

"He called me and said, 'Mom there are gunshots.' He sounded so scared. I've never heard him like that," Moser told the newspaper. "You never think about something happening like this at a small school."

Ambulances and a Lifeflight helicopter were sent to the school.

Stephanie Lutje told The Associated Press that she was relieved to hear her son was safe after his high school near Freeman was put on lockdown. She commended the school district for its communication with parents.

"It's been amazing, within probably 15-20 minutes of hearing about it, I'd already received a phone call, I'd already received a text message saying that their school is OK," she said.

She still worried for others she knew, including a co-worker who had yet to hear from her son, a sophomore at Freeman.

"My stomach's in knots right now," she said.

Gov. Jay Inslee said in a statement that "all Washingtonians are thinking of the victims and their families, and are grateful for the service of school staff and first responders working to keep our students safe."

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Associated Press writers Rebecca Boone in Boise, Idaho, and Alina Hartounian in Phoenix contributed to this story.