East Tennessee students call lockdown ‘traumatizing’ following shooter hoax


CHURCH HILL, Tenn. (WJHL) — It was a frightening morning for students at Volunteer High School on what was supposed to be their first full day of school.

The school was locked down and students were evacuated after authorities received a call Thursday morning from a person who claimed to be armed with a gun inside the school. Authorities said the call was a hoax.

After the school was put on lockdown, students were loaded onto buses and transported to the National Guard armory in neighboring Mount Carmel where they were reunited with their parents.

Two students received medical treatment: one suffered a seizure and another had a panic attack during the incident.

Harlie Crawford, a Volunteer student, said she was in the gymnasium when teachers told students to move behind the bleachers.

“It was really scary all through, but definitely at first,” Crawford said. “You weren’t expecting that especially on the first full day of school.”

Crawford was then moved to a classroom with other students. A teacher turned the lights off while the students stayed quiet. Then an armed police officer entered the room.

“At first we thought it was a drill, so we were kind of just waiting,” she said. “And then the police officers came in with these guns and I was like, this is serious.”

The situation made Crawford realize she took the safety of school for granted.

“It shows you how real this is. I’ve never honestly thought about this situation,” Crawford said. “I feel like it’s opened everyone’s eyes up a little bit about how easily things can happen.”

Camden Woodby, a freshman, spent more than two hours on lockdown in the school’s theater. He said school officials did not tell students anything other than a lockdown being in place. Students, however, caught wind of rumors on social media.

“It went from the point of regular talking to dead silence,” Woodby said. “Someone said that there was a shooter and we all just went into shock.”

Woodby said rumors about injuries and the number of shooters scared the students.

Crawford said students left the school with their hands over their heads. That’s when she saw officers with guns again.

“I was seeing the guns and everything and it was really triggering me and I asked if I could sit down and I started hyperventilating really hard,” she said.

Crawford said she fell over multiple times and was helped by members of the Church Hill Rescue Squad and was ultimately taken to a hospital. She is now back home recovering from the incident.

“My mind was racing and I just couldn’t stop it,” Crawford said. “It was traumatizing, and it was traumatizing for my friends too to have to see me like that.”

School officials say classes are scheduled to proceed as usual Tuesday morning with added law enforcement on site. They said counselors will also be available to help students with stress.

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