SANTEE, Calif. (BP)–The bell had just rung, signaling the end of morning classes at Santana High School. Dozens of students poured into the hallways heading to their next class — including 15-year-old Andrew Richter.
Richter, a member of the First Baptist Church, Santee, Calif., said he was heading to a small quad area when he heard what sounded like fire crackers exploding. Then everyone stopped.
“It got real quiet for just a second and then everyone started moving backwards,” Richter told Baptist Press. “People were moving very fast.”
Richter was about to run when he saw a fellow student propped up against a pole. He was bleeding from the mouth. “This other guy came up and tried to help him and then he got shot in the leg,” Richter said. “Then, the guy started shooting again and I started running.”
A school security officer was directing students out of the hallway and at one point stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Richter. In that one split second, Richter turned and watched as a bullet struck the officer in the back.
“I tried to help him but there were so many bullets that I just ran,” Richter said. “I just ran. There was so much screaming and yelling. It was almost like a dream.”
Richter was ushered into a classroom where the teacher locked the door. Five minutes later, they were evacuated from the building.
Immediately after the shooting, Richter and his friends at the First Baptist youth group gathered at a home to pray. “We prayed that everyone would be all right,” he said. “There were a lot of people from our church that go to school there.”
Richter’s mother, who was recovering from surgery, learned about the shooting from a news bulletin on the television. “The Lord was protecting,” said Esther Richter. “I’m just thankful he is safe.”
Richter, who plays on the high school tennis team, said God was watching out for him in that hallway. “I was scared, but I knew that God would be there with me,” he said. “He was definitely looking after me.”