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Santa Fe High School Student Describes Horror That Unfolded In Texas School Shooting

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Earlier today, I reached Bree Butler, a student at Santa Fe High School. She was in history class when she heard a lot of commotion in the hallway. And at first, she told me it was unclear what was going on. Then the fire alarm sounded, and her teacher urged everyone to get out.

BREE BUTLER: We went outside, and we stood like we would for a normal fire drill. And we were all just kind of standing around really confused for a minute. And then we heard three gunshots.

SHAPIRO: And when you realized that it was gunfire, did you think - I mean, you've seen the news coverage of Parkland and Newtown...

BUTLER: Yeah.

SHAPIRO: ...And the school shootings before that and since. What was going through your head?

BUTLER: As soon as I heard those gunshots, I gabbed my little sister's hand, and I ran.

SHAPIRO: Do you know if any of the victims were your friends or people you were familiar with?

BUTLER: I mean, my high school only has 1,400 people in it. There's 350 people in my graduating class. Like, we all know each other.

SHAPIRO: And graduation is just around the corner.

BUTLER: Yeah. It's June 1.

SHAPIRO: Have you even begun to think about how this redefines your experience of your senior year, your graduation, your time in high school?

BUTLER: I mean, our high - our senior year has been insane. We had Harvey, and we were out for two weeks. And then we had a similar incident in February where there was a lockdown because there had been threats made to my high school, and then there were popping noises heard. And so we were on lockdown for about four hours thinking that there was a shooter in our building. It's been a crazy year. And, yes, it defines my senior year, sure. But I'm not going to let it define it in a negative way. I'm more worried about my sisters having to go back next year. I really don't think that it's completely set in yet...

SHAPIRO: Yeah.

BUTLER: ...That this is my high school. Like, you hear all of these news things, but then it actually happens to you, and it's crazy.

SHAPIRO: Police say they have a suspect in custody. Have you heard anything about the shooter or the alleged shooter?

BUTLER: The guy who has been confirmed as the suspect was in my second period class, actually. About 20 more minutes, I would have been in the classroom...

SHAPIRO: Wow.

BUTLER: ...Which was crazy to think about.

SHAPIRO: What are your friends saying right now, today, since everybody has left the school and sort of, I imagine, gone home, those who were able to escape safely? What's the conversation like?

BUTLER: It's very mixed. I mean, we're from southeast Texas. My town is very pro-gun conservative - I mean, obviously not everyone but most, the majority. And there are some people who don't want to talk politics at all. There are some people who are saying, you know, the normal it's the shooter, not the gun argument. And then there are some people who want to take action and make a change and stand for gun control.

And I mean, I obviously am on the side of standing for gun control. But at this time, I just don't think that anybody, especially from Santa Fe, needs to turn against each other. We're all going through this together. And it's just - it's a lot. Wait a few weeks, and then you can argue about it.

SHAPIRO: Yeah. People today have been talking about how, on the one hand, this is an unthinkable tragedy. And on the other hand, it is something that happens so disturbingly often in the U.S. As a high school student who has now been at a high school where a school shooting happened today, do you feel like this is beyond belief, or do you feel like this is something that you've been hearing about and on some level bracing yourself for for a long time?

BUTLER: To an extent, both. I mean, we obviously have the drills, and we had the scare in February. There's that part of it that every day I wake up, and I come to school, and I'm like, OK, like, I need to be on a little bit higher alert than I was my freshman, sophomore, junior year because this is so much more common now. And - but at the same time, you always think, it's not going to be me. And it's just weird to think that this isn't another state or another city even. It's - this is my high school.

SHAPIRO: Yeah.

BUTLER: It's weird. It's a really weird feeling, and I don't think that it's really set in yet.

SHAPIRO: Well, Bree Butler, thank you for talking with us. I'm glad you're safe. And take care of yourself these next days and weeks, OK?

BUTLER: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.