ANDERSON, S.C. (WSPA) – Emotional testimony from people who were either at Townville Elementary School or were the first to respond after a teenage boy opened fire at the school in September 2016.
Their testimony was heard in day two of a court hearing to decide if the teen suspect will be tried as an adult.
The principal of the school, Denise Fredericks testified Tuesday morning.
Fredericks recalled passing wounded students as she tried to get the school on lockdown and figure out what was happening.
She said she could see the alleged shooter standing on the playground acting “physically animated.”
She said she recognized him as a former student.
“It was shocking, and then immediately you start thinking he’s been here he knows everywhere our kids are. He knows how we drill, he knows if they are in related arts or in a 4K classroom all the way up to 5th grade where we would be sheltering,” Fredericks said.
Fredericks said the suspect was a good kid who participated with his classmates. Teachers talked about how smart, kind, polite and well-mannered he was. She said he was quiet, but not a loner.
She said the suspect was academically at the top of his class.
Pamela Sanchez, a 1st grade teacher assistant at Townville Elementary, also testified on Tuesday describing the moments after the shooting.
Sanchez said leading up the shooting she remembers Jacob Hall holding the door open with a teacher.
When the shooting occurred, Hall, a teacher — later identified as Meghan Hollingsworth — and another student were hit.
Sanchez said, “we picked him up [Hall] and took him into speech teachers classroom.”
“I saw some blood on Ms. Hollingsworth’s jawline, but she kept saying ‘I’m fine, just worry about Jacob,'” Sanchez said.
Sanchez said she’s changed because of the shooting.
“I am not the same person that I used to be,” she said. “I look out at these children and I have to have a desk by the window, so I can see what’s going on. I cry a lot, of course.”
Firefighter Jamie Brock recounted when he and another first responder arrived at the scene.
“We parked behind the black truck, ” Brock said. “We didn’t see anyone at first, then a teacher stuck her head outside the door yelling she needed help.”
Brock said the other person with him went in to help the teacher since he was a paramedic and he went to get the shooter.
“I went up the sidewalk. We had asked the teacher if she had seen where the shooter was at,” he said. “I went up the side of the building toward him.”
He told the court on Tuesday that it took him about three minutes after arriving on-scene before he saw the suspect.
“I told him to freeze and get on his knees,” Brock said. “I put my knee in the back of his neck. He was not armed at that time. He said ‘I’m sorrry. I’m sorry.’ I asked him why he did this and he said he did not believe in God anymore.”
The shooter’s gun was reportedly dropped on the playground.
Brock then informed others that he had detained the teen suspect.
He said the suspect “he had no emotions, nothing.”