• No evidence of shooter at Highline College after reports of gunfire caused massive response

    By: David Solano

    Updated:

    DES MOINES, Wash. - The Florida shooting was on the minds of many when Highline College was locked down for reports of gunfire on Friday, Feb. 16. 

    SWAT teams rushed to the school and nobody was taking any chances. Students were afraid there was somebody on campus with a gun.

    >> Follow this link to see photos of the large police response at the scene.

    Police never found anyone, and that lockdown was lifted at noon.

    But given what just happened in Florida, students told us they were terrified. And some even texted family and friends to say goodbye.

    Police swarmed Highline College after receiving reports about a potential shooting on campus. 
    Students hid in locked classrooms for hours until they got the all-clear.   

    Bogdan Chmil was one of them.

    "People didn't know what to do because we first thought it was a drill,” Chmil, a student at Highline College, said. “But they kept repeating, 'It's not  a drill. It's not a drill. Get in your classrooms.’" 

    After police found no evidence of a shooter, students were finally allowed to leave campus. Many immediately called their loved ones.

    Students told KIRO 7 that police, who escorted them out, said it might have just been fireworks.

    “Why do fireworks at a time like this? [It just] doesn't make sense,” Diana Semchek, a Highline College student, said. " Why have fireworks at a school? [It] doesn't make sense." 

    "If this is something that somebody thought was funny in light of what happened in Florida and wanted to generate some hysteria, well, it's not appreciated,” George Delgado, Chief of the Des Moines police department, said. 

    Not appreciated at all. 

    Students said there were moments they thought they might not make it out alive. 

    "I talked to my mother. My mom is not here,” said Georges Simo, who is transferring to University of Washington. “She's in France right now. She was calling every five seconds, texting [and] making sure everything was fine. Yeah, it was really hard [to go through that emotional moment]. I was like, 'Mom, don't worry.’ But I was worried myself. I wasn't sure if was even going to come out alive." 

    "I called my family. My sisters calling her husband and [then] me,” Cedrianna Brownell, a Highline student, said. “We're just all trying to get in touch with each other." 

    "My sister's in there and my girlfriend was in class, so I freaked out,” Ruvim Kuzmik told KIRO 7 News. “I don't know. I called her. I called my parents." 

    "It's just not funny,” said Highline College student Alex Foster, shaking his head after leaving the campus.  

    Police will continue to work on finding out exactly what happened on campus. 

    "The best news in all of this, for us of course, is there were no victims,” Dr. Jeff Wagnitz, the interim President at Highline College, said. “We don't have a tragedy on our hands." 

    >> Related: Fireworks could be to blame in Highline College panic

    KIRO 7 provided real-time updates from when a search was underway. See how the scene unfolded with time-stamped updates below.

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