Text messages record tension by the minute

January 4, 2006 

Foss High School students Samantha Hoffine, 15; Ayanna Fernandez, 14; Nataliahna Petty, 14; and Osceola Brown, 15; tell their parents about police officers and panic at the school. They told their parents to pick them up at the Fred Meyer parking lot across from the school after a fatal shooting there Wednesday morning.

JANET JENSEN/ THE NEWS TRIBUNE

Wednesday’s events provided tense moments for Foss High School students and their families and friends. But technology – cell phones and instant text messaging – let people stay in touch. Here’s a text message string between a girl and her mother.

7:25 a.m.: Diane Richards drops 15-year-old daughter Ali off at Foss. As she leaves the parking lot, Richards notices several police cars screaming up South 19th Street and turning onto the campus. She pulls off to the side and sends Ali a message asking what’s going on at the school.

7:33 a.m.: Ali text messages back: “I’m not sure. We’re all going to the gym. People are saying someone got shot.”

“I sent her a message back, asking whether she could leave,” Richards said.

7:38 a.m.: Ali replies by text: “No. There’s a lockdown. I don’t think they will let anyone leave.”

7:51 a.m.: Ali texts back: “They said nobody can leave or come in and they are trying to make sure the school is safe before we can leave the gym.”

7:57 a.m.: Ali texts mom: “Are there a lot of police out there?”

“I said yes,” Richards recalled. “She wanted to see a picture of them, so I sent her a picture of a big long line of police cars.”

8:12 a.m.: Ali texts mom: “Wow. There are police here and they are scaring me because they have guns.”

Richards erased a few of her daughter’s messages, so the string ends there. Mother and daughter were reunited later Wednesday morning when Ali found her mom waiting for her in the nearby Fred Meyer parking lot.

Kris Sherman, The News Tribune

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