I feel guilty. I feel guilty for feeling this way. I feel guilty for not being okay when I know others have experienced much worse 2/13/23. I feel guilty for not being stronger and for letting this affect me rather than redirecting any attention towards myself to the victims.
I've experienced a lot of traumatic events throughout my life. Many close-death encounters for my mom, a structure fire in my apartment complex, hell I've even overdosed, but I've never genuinely feared for my own life the way I did that night. I was in Akers dining hall Monday night. I live at South Hubbard Hall and decided to grab dinner alone despite my friends offering me to join them a few hours earlier, because I like to get work done there. At around 8:30 I saw a group of girls sitting at a table near me mention something about the staff locking the doors and not letting anyone leave. I ignored, assuming there was a spill or something and kept working on my chapter quizzes due at 11:59. Unfortunately, my phone broke just the day before and has been randomly restarting every 60 seconds, so it's basically unusable unless for essential functions. Once someone had mentioned shots fired I finally saw the email on my computer and started listening in on the police scanner, while still continuing to work through my assignment. It wasn't until the staff began to close all the blinds and instructed everyone to move into the center of the dining hall away from all the windows, that I finally put my work on hold. The last thing I heard on the scanner was a report the suspect was seen near Owen hall headed East (about a 10 minute walk from Akers).
I found my RA and others from my floor amidst the chaos. They became my only source of information from then on. As my RA was on and off the phone with friends, coworkers and supervisors, she suddenly went silent and showed us a text. As she passed her phone around she told everyone to not read it aloud, stay calm and not react, as she knew with everyone on edge a strong reaction would only make things more chaotic. I read off her phone 'possible shots fired at IM East' (the gym across the street). Suddenly, it became all too real. I finally started texting my mom about everything unfolding as I started breathing heavier and my heart beating quicker. Even though I now know this was a false report, at the time the threat seemed very real.
The staff began barricading the doors, as I continued to stick with my RA and other residents. A few girls from my floor are muslim and needed to wash up to pray, so the staff was letting us all use the bathrooms in the kitchen. As we began to walk towards the kitchen all of a sudden, we heard screaming and someone yelling 'MOVE, MOVE'. I'm still unsure what the cause of this sudden outbreak was. Everyone immediately started running. With only two exits, one potentially compromised and the other still barricaded, we all made our way into the kitchen. I grabbed my RA's hands as we ran into a storage room we found in the kitchen. We immediately crouched in the corner with the lights off as people ran in and out of the room and a couple people yelled to come this way. When we followed them out of the room we saw them going through a door with an exit sign above and realized it was a stairwell. As people rushed out the door, we plead and plead with them not to go outside, because at the time we were all under the idea there were multiple shooters on campus, but they did not listen, they couldn't (I believe these students running outside ended up being the viral video people have seen of people running out of Akers screaming). We ran back into the storage room, and began to barricade the doors. Two boys informed us there was another entrance into the room so my RA and I ran over and started carrying heavy shelves towards the door. When we decided we had done enough, my friends all ran under a desk. As my RA told me to join them, I realized we couldn't all fit so I ran into a corner. I grabbed a nearby cart and pulled it towards me to hide myself from view between myself and the entrance on the right. Somehow I also pulled a heavy shelf in front of me to hide my view forward. I put my backpack over my shoes to try and hide my neon pink Jordans and crouched as small as I could. Tears streaming down my face, I tried to quiet my breaths as I pulled my phone out and tried to text my parents I love them. I cried even more when my phone powered off before the texts could go through. I still have the picture I took, scared for my life, in the dark, sitting in that corner.
I don't know how long we sat there before the police got us. We refused to take apart our barricade until they started trying to break in themselves, insisting we were safe and to keep our hands up. The image of the room lighting up as they opened the door and us all still hiding on the floor with only our hands in view will forever be burned in my mind. We walked out of the room with teams of armed police officers pointing their guns at the door. We were the first group they found at Akers and so when we went downstairs, we didn't know where to go and begged them to lead the way so we weren't alone. They escorted us back to Conrad, where we sat all holding each other in shock for probably half an hour before they declared the courtyard cleared, and escorted us back to our rooms one by one.
People ask if I'm okay. I say I don't know. One minute I may be laughing with my friend and the next minute I think about sitting in that corner and just break down. I feel bad for not being okay. I am grateful I am alive. I am grateful I was not anywhere near the direct line of fire. And everytime I cry, I think about the people who were. I haven't reached out to a counselor for this reason. I'm broken, I'm in shock, I don't know what to do.
Stay Strong MSU <3