MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Parents of Robert E. Lee High School students were visibly upset Tuesday after learning of a shooting inside the Montgomery school’s gym.
A large number of parents and area residents gathered across the street from the campus. Obviously worried about the students’ safety, many began to question officials on when they would be able to see their children.
The school, on lockdown at the time, was being searched as a safety precaution following the shooting. Parents were not being allowed inside the building and students were not being allowed to leave.
In a powerful moment, the crowd formed a circle and held hands. As they embraced, Deacon Hermon Thornton of St. Stephens Baptist Church and Charles Lee of That’s My Child led them in prayer. The group prayed for peace.
“When I heard the breaking news, I came,” Thornton said.
Thornton and others are calling for a change in the community.
“What do we need now to make our kid’s safe so they can go to school and learn so they can be successful in life?” Thornton said. “We are calling for a change. For unity. These churches have to come out to show that we know things happen, but when things happen, we got to be there.”
Thornton said they are also asking for prayer.
“We ask for prayer. You don’t have to have a child to be involved but you have to have a heart to let parents and kids know that someone cares about them. Continue to pray, not only just today and tomorrow but throughout the year. Get involved. Get involved and if you see something’s that not right don’t be afraid to just open and say, ‘hey let it alone’,” Thornton said.
As parents prayed outside, students did the same inside their classrooms.
"I was just sad, trying to get to my mom,” said 9th grader Brenisha Adams.
Adams called her mom from inside the school to let her know she was okay.
"I was in my classroom when it happened. The first thing I did was call my mom. That is the first thing I did. I was scared, I didn’t know what to do,” she said.
Hours later, they were finally able to talk face to face.
"I hugged her when I saw her. It was good to hug her. I was happy to see her. Glad she was safe,” said Adams.
Relief for now, but parents worry about the future.
"I don’t want to send my child to school and then he may not come home one day. That is ridiculous. That is how the world is now. I don’t know what Montgomery can do to improve, but we have to come up with something,” said parent Tonithia Jordan.
Community leaders say this shooting is a wake up call. A time for not just parents but everyone to get involved to make schools safe.
An investigation into the shooting is ongoing. Montgomery police say one student was shot in the arm. A suspect has been taken into custody.