Christine Shea, dean of students at Aztec High School, described surviving the school shooting on Dec. 7, 2017, that claimed the lives of two students at a rally Sunday afternoon at Buckley Park.
The rally, attended by about 70 people wearing orange, was held by the Durango and Montezuma County chapters of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America and called for adopting laws to require secure storage of firearms and ammunition.
“I don’t recall being scared or afraid,” Shea told the crowd. “I was pissed because someone was hurting our kids.”
She remembers becoming even angrier after the fire alarm went off at the school – thinking the shooter had pulled the alarm to get the students outside in order to provide more targets.
Later, she said, she learned the shooter had fired so many shots that gun smoke had set off the fire alarm.
“I think everyone at Aztec High School can agree we hate the sound of fire alarms,” she said.
Shea ran to the school intercom and announced to the school to disregard the fire drill and to stay in lockdown, a move that was credited with saving lives.
She said the moment she felt the most sadness was when the students began emerging from the buildings after the shooter had taken his own life after killing two 17-year-olds, Casey Jordan Marquez, a senior, and Francisco Fernandez, a junior.
“Your heart breaks when you see students, teenagers, walking from the buildings with their hands up in the air to be frisked by SWAT team members – they didn’t deserve that,” she said.
Shea noted the shooter was able to obtain the guns he used from his father, who had legally purchased them.
Dr. Susan Goodpastor, a doctor of internal medicine at Mercy Regional Medical Center and a professor of public health at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., told the crowd that from 2008 to 2017, 342,439 people were killed by firearms in the United States, 60 percent from suicides.
The number of deaths from firearms from 2008 to 2017, she said, exceeded the number of Americans combat fatalities from World War II.
“We do have division over guns” Shea told the crowd, “But why can’t we be on the same page for being rational about guns. The Second Amendment isn’t going anywhere, but how about some rational ideas,” she said.