Tanya Chambers of Lacey opted to keep her 15-year-old son Andrew out of North Thurston High School for most of the week.
Nobody was hurt when a 16-year-old boy allegedly fired a revolver twice inside the school Monday morning. And Lacey police and school district officials say rumors of possible threats against the school appear to be just that — rumors.
But Chambers said she just couldn’t let her son go back to the scene.
“It’s hard because you don’t want to send your child to school even if it’s rumors going around,” she said. “You don’t know what could happen.”
Andrew was in the school commons area during the gunfire incident.
“He was, like, 10 feet away,” Chambers said.
The teen ran to the nearby Safeway with a group of his friends. He called his mom, and told her what happened.
“I just dropped everything,” Chambers said.
She said she ran to her car, drove to the store and picked up her son and his friends.
The district gave parents the option of excusing students Tuesday who weren’t up to returning to the scene.
For Chambers, the decision to keep her son home was a no-brainer. On that day, about 400 of the school’s 1,447 students were marked absent, according to district spokeswoman Courtney Schrieve.
Andrew returned to school Wednesday, but that night, Chambers received a call from the district’s automated messaging system. It stated that there were potential threats against the school, Chambers said.
Even with the school district’s assurance that extra police and counseling services were available, Chambers said she couldn’t let her oldest child return to the campus.
“He’s my son,” she said Thursday night. “All I want is protection for him.”
Altogether, about 300 students missed school that day, Schrieve said.
It’s not like Andrew was sitting around playing video games or sleeping all week.
“He still needs to do his homework, and not miss any assignments,” Chambers said. “But at least he’s home safe.”
During the past week, the mother and son have talked about how to report threats, the dangers of bullying and the importance of getting people help, if they show signs that they need it.
“I just hope that all the kids learn from this, and know that there is a lot of help out there,” Chambers said.
Andrew said he hopes to go back Monday.
It’s been a rough week. Sometimes, he gets upset. Sometimes, he gets scared.
The moments before the alleged shooter was tackled by a social studies teacher are still fresh.
“I think about it a lot,” Andrew said. “If I hear a loud noise, it would be like a flashback memory to that moment.”