After a central Indiana teacher found herself in the line of fire during last year’s Las Vegas mass shooting that killed 58 people, she rode away in her taxi unscathed by a bullet but mentally shaken.
Eight months later and this time at her place of employment, Shelly Alexander, a special education assistant at Noblesville West Middle School, found herself again in an active shooter situation when a 13-year-old student opened fire at a central Indiana middle school May 25, wounding a student and a teacher, The Herald reported.
Her seemingly irrational fears of loud sounds being gunshots had come true.
When Alexander heard a commotion outside her classroom, she immediately started downplaying the situation, telling herself it was just a drill for the end of the year, but when it was announced over the loudspeakers, she had a choice to make.
“I knew as a leader in the building, I had to turn that [panic] to purpose,” Alexander told The Herald. “I had to turn my pain and worry into motion, basically. I had to protect.”
The Las Vegas massacre survivor sheltered her students inside a locked classroom before ushering them to safety. The shooter was on another floor, and seventh-grade science teacher Jason Seaman, who was shot three times, is credited with helping to stop the attack.
While Alexander huddled with her students outside she tried to hide her panic and grief, managing flashbacks of Las Vegas, where she said she felt “very alone” trying to process everything but this time the community is “going through it together,” she told The Herald.
Through counseling and other self-care methods, Alexander has been encouraging others in her community to heal from the shooting.
“There’s been times where I didn’t think I needed a counselor or I didn’t want to go to my appointment, but then always afterward it was such a relief and I was so glad that I went,” Alexander said. “I think my job is to make sure the staff knows there is help out there.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.