Teen hid next to bodies of slain classmates
A MOTHER has revealed her teenage daughter was forced to hide in a closet alongside her dying classmates while school shooter Dimitrios Pagourtzis continued his deadly rampage.
In a lengthy and emotional letter shared to Facebook in the wake of the tragedy which killed two teachers and eight students, mother Deedra Van Ness shared harrowing details of her daughter Isabelle Leymance's remarkable escape.
She described getting a frantic, whispered phone call from her teenage daughter as the gunman opened fire at Santa Fe High School in Texas on Friday.
"Mum," her daughter whispered. "They are shooting up the school. I'm hiding in a closet. I love you, mum."
What Ms Van Ness didn't yet know was that Isabelle was at that time cowering in a closet with seven other students after the 17-year-old shooter stormed their art class.
Two of the students were shot dead and another was injured after Pagourtzis repeatedly fired into the closet and taunted survivors.
Ms Van Ness went on to describe the chaos and fear in the classroom, as described to her by her daughter.
"Suddenly, the kids start screaming and running. The gunman enters their room from the classroom next door and fires a shot that grazes one girl and hits a boy in the classroom," Ms Van Ness wrote.
"She finally runs for the supply closet where she and six other kids hide. They are able to lock one door and begin blocking the other door as another girl runs into the closet with them. "As they are moving heavy items in front of the door, the gunman screams 'Surprise motherf**ker' and begins shooting into the closet.
"The gunman hits three of the eight kids in the closet, killing two of them instantly. He leaves to chase other kids who ran out of the room and they hear more gun shots. Then he comes back."
The distraught mother described her daughter's panicked calls to police in a desperate attempt to alert them to what was happening in the classroom.
According to Ms Van Ness, police told the student to stay hidden and that help was on the way.
By the time the students were rescued, they had been trapped in the closet next to the bodies of their friends and in the same room as the shooter for more than half an hour.
According to Ms Van Ness, her son Kam, who is also a student at the school, lost his best friend in the attack.
In her now-viral post, Ms Van Ness paid tribute to her "brave" daughter.
"I'm so proud of her and her bravery and caring heart. She saved herself, called the policy, shared her phone with others who were afraid, spoke to a reporter to share her story, and stayed strong until she was able to transfer her burden to us," she said.
The Santa Fe shooting was the 101st mass shooting in the US in 2018, according to the non-profit research group Gun Violence Archive.
It came just months after the Parkland attack in February, which saw 17 lives lost.