Oregon shooting: Terror, sadness and relief after campus massacre

Story highlights

  • A man opens fire at Umpqua Community College, leaving many dead and others scrambling for their lives
  • Students recall going into lockdown, with one explaining how he saw blood while being led to safety
  • Relatives waited at a nearby fairgrounds, hoping their loved ones would soon arrive there safely

Roseburg, Oregon (CNN)If Jessica Chandler's dream comes true and she sees her daughter, she knows what she'd say: "I would tell her that I love her, and I want her in my arms."

Instead, Chandler was left to wait Thursday afternoon, choking back tears. From her spot at the Douglas County Fairgrounds, about 8 miles from where the massacre occurred at Umpqua Community College, she kept an eye on the buses transporting survivors there in hopes her daughter would be among them.
"I have no idea where she's at," she said. "They're telling me I need to stay in this building, and I'm not staying ... I want to see my daughter."
    Umpqua Community College's interim president, Rita Cavin, said at about the same time that only one more bus was heading to the fairgrounds. And she knows that some gathered there will be crushed if their loved one doesn't step off.
    "We have grief counselors for those parents who have no children coming off that bus," Cavin said. "It's been extremely sad right now to watch these families wait."

    Ambulance after ambulance

    Emotions ran high, and ran the gamut, in this small, rural and otherwise peaceful community. There was sheer horror, immense sadness and joyous relief in various measures.
    Some, such as Hannah Miles, experienced all of these and more in a few hours.
    The 19-year-old freshman started running after hearing loud popping sounds, eventually hunkering down in the school bookstore. Her mother, meanwhile, learned of what was really happening from Mercy Medical Center across town in Roseburg, where she's a nurse.
    "I was frozen," the mother told CNN affiliate KOIN. "My Hanna's out there... I'm thinking one of these (patients) that they're wheeling in, 'Is this going to be Hannah?'"
    The two of them thankfully found each other, safe and sound. But Miles' mother saw firsthand at the hospital how "overwhelming" the entire, horrid episode was.
    "It was constant," she said of the flow of patients into Mercy Medical. "An ambulance would drive up, ... then another one."

    'I kind of panicked'

    Professor Ken Carloni was in Umpqua's science building when a colleague raced down the hall and told them about the mass shooting less than 100 yards away.
    He, fellow school employees and students stayed put, locked the doors and looked out the window to see law enforcement officers racing across campus.
    At one point, some of those officers got into Carloni's building with their guns raised -- telling everyone to raise their hands and patting them down, one by one.
    Kristen Brady had left the campus' science building and got into her car when she and friend "heard popping," initially thinking a car backfired. A school administrator then explained what really happened: a shooter on campus.
    "My friend was able to get away, and I kind of panicked and I laid down in my car," Brady said. "And I started to worry about the other students in my lab (and) any other students."
    She eventually got up enough to flag down another student, get out of her car and run toward the science building, where she was safe, if shaken.
    "I believe that almost all my friends and classmates have been accounted for," Brady added. "There are others I don't have a way to contact that I'm worried how they're doing."
    For the survivors, there were plenty of reminders of what happened and what could have happened to them.
    Luke Rogers saw it firsthand as he and other students, after their lockdown had been lifted, walked single file to safety.
    "As we passed Snyder Hall," he told CNN, "we could see the door opened and on the ground where the detectives had some marks there was ... drops of blood."