Tiffany Kennedy was in treatment at the West Palm Beach VA hospital Monday morning when she looked up at a TV and “went numb.”
The banner across the bottom said nine people were injured at Ohio State University.
“I was like, ‘Wait a second — I’m from Ohio State. My daughter’s at Ohio State.’ I ran to the phone and called her and she answered on the first ring and said, ‘I don’t have classes on Monday.’”
Kennedy’s daughter, Emily Feltz, was in an apartment north of the campus, in the kitchen. “My roommate and I heard a ton of sirens heading toward the campus,” Feltz said. “We looked at each other and said, ‘What the heck was that?’
Then came the texts from the school. “Emergency on campus. More information soon. Shelter in place. Be observant. Take action as needed. Public Safety responding.”
Three minutes later came another text: “Active shooter on campus. Run, hide, fight.”
In all, 11 were injured in the minutes before a campus police officer shot and killed the attacker, Abdul Razak Ali Artan. The Somali immigrant, an OSU student, had driven onto a sidewalk, swerved into a group of people outside the school’s engineering building and emerged swinging with a butcher’s knife.
“We were really relieved we weren’t on campus,” said Feltz, 20, a sophomore political science major. (It runs in the family — she’s a distant relative of JFK.)
“But immediately we were scared for our friends. We texted all of them to make sure they were OK. One of my friends had a class in the building opposite where it happened. He was fine.”
Facebook set up a check-in feature for students to confirm they were safe. Many students kept their ears to police scanner apps on their smart phones. Phone calls and texts poured in from friends and relatives. Her mother’s call was about the tenth to make it through. “It was all very overwhelming.”
Her mother, as it happens, graduated from OSU in 1993 with a degree in chemical engineering. For four years, she took classes in the building where the attack took place, she said.
By Tuesday the campus reopened but many professors canceled classes, Feltz said, “because everyone was worried about what would happen.”
Counseling sessions for students were held at several locations. A larger event was scheduled “to just keep moving forward after everything that happened.”
But people were still, figuratively, looking back over their shoulders.
A fire truck drove on campus Tuesday with sirens blaring and everyone stopped and looked, she said. “Everyone just kind of froze…. Like, was it happening again?”
Have a West Palm Beach news tip? Contact Staff Writer Tony Doris at firstname.lastname@example.org or 561-820-4703.