ROSEBURG, Oregon — Hannah Miles went to Umpqua Community College to study nursing, considering to one day work in an emergency room.
On Thursday, her classroom became an emergency room when 26-year-old Chris Harper-Mercer killed nine people and injured seven.
“Not what I expected, my first year of college,” Miles told The Daily Beast.
At about 10:30 a.m., Miles said she heard “a yardstick or ruler smacking against a chalkboard.”
A fellow student joked that it sounded like a shotgun, she said. Then shots came “one after the other” as she heard people in the next room cry out.
Teacher Amy Fair led the class to a nearby bookstore where all the students took refuge in a back room. Miles said she left everything—her phone, wallet, purse, and books—behind.
“It was utter chaos, the fear and the panic,” Miles said of running for her life.
Student Kortney Moore told the News Review that the gunman entered her classroom after firing a shot through the window. Moore said she saw her teacher get shot in the head. The gunman told everyone to get on the floor, according to Moore, then asked people to stand up and state their religion before opening fire.
Douglas County Sherrif Douglas Hanlin said officers immediately responded and exchanged fire with the gunman, who is dead.
Umpqua is the fourth shooting on a college campus since August and the deadliest since the 2007 shooting at Virginia Tech that killed 32.
There have been at least 142 school shootings in the U.S. since the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., in December 2012, according to Every Town for Gun Safety.
This isn’t even the first school shooting in Roseburg: In 2006, a high school freshman shot another student in the back four times.
Thursday was the fourth day of school at Umpqua, so Miles and her classmates were mostly strangers to each other. By the end of the day, they were hugging and crying in the book store’s back room.
“Yes, [the shooting] was unthinkable,” she said, “but it is even more incredible that people can become supporters for one another.”
Miles said the day makes her want to be a nurse “more than ever.”
“I can tell you, I’m going back to UCC.”