Crisis in a closet

Lacey Scottum was one of four teachers hiding in a classroom’s supply closet, hoping a school shooter wouldn’t find them. But the 24-year old knew there was someone else in that closet, someone giving her a sense of calm.

It was my first year as a fulltime teacher in a small school in rural Minnesota. I was about to face a situation that no one wants to experience, but everything still seemed normal during my prep hour on that March day in 2005. I was talking to a fellow teacher when we heard a strange noise. It sounded like someone was hitting metal lockers with a baseball bat, but we assumed some students were just messing around and shrugged it off.

A few moments later, we stared in disbelief as a student ran past the open door of our classroom, blood trailing down his arm. “School shooter, school shooter!” he yelled. The other teacher and I had no idea what was happening. I think we were in shock. I remember feeling a certain sense of denial, a sense that this doesn’t happen to normal people, so it can’t be happening A few moments after that, the vice principal’s voice came over the loud speaker informing us that the school was now in a complete lockdown.

As I went to lock the classroom door I noticed two women huddled in the archway of door across the hall.  That classroom was locked, and the women were obviously trying to find somewhere to hide. I motioned for them to run to our room and then locked the door. We heard more loud noises, and this time we knew the noises were gunshots. The four of us stood in horror and confusion as the situation sank in.

I suggested that we move to the classroom’s supply closet to make ourselves safer, so we went inside and shut the door. The two ladies were in a panic, and one seemed to be hyperventilating.  We are all terrified, hiding in that closet. A million thoughts were running through my head, but I started praying, “God, just help me be calm.” I asked God to provide me with strength and stillness.

I was pregnant with my daughter at the time, and I was afraid of what might happen to her.  But I also had an unexplained reassurance that I would be unharmed, and I knew that God was watching over me.

I was able to use the composure God gave me to help the other ladies calm down. “It”ll be fine,” I told them. Then I tried to distract them with humor, wondering out loud if there were any checkers in the closet that we could play with.

And there we waited.  For 45 minutes we hid in that closet, not knowing what was going on. Finally, we heard the all clear and were able to come out of hiding, safe and sound.  Later we learned that 11 people had lost their lives that day.

I don’t know why things like this happen, but I am extremely grateful that Jesus was with me in that closet, and that he is with me always.

I lift up my eyes to the hills – where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD the Maker of heaven and earth.” Psalm 121:1-2

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