Kaitlin Holt followed her instincts when five students barged into her classroom saying there was an active shooter on Saugus High School’s campus in California.
One of the students who ran in was a girl with two gunshot wounds, Holt said on CNN’s “Full Circle” Friday.
Holt used a gunshot kit in her classroom to tend to the girl, corralled students into her office and blocked the doors to her classroom. All this was part of active shooter training the choir teacher had only practiced once since coming to the school in January.
Moments before the students ran into her class, a 16-year-old student had walked on campus with a .45-caliber pistol and began shooting. Two students, a 15-year-old girl and a 14-year-old boy, were killed and three others were wounded. The shooter then shot himself in the head and is in critical condition in the hospital. Investigators are digging into the suspect’s social media and background in search of a motive.
She is being praised for her quick response, but Holt does not consider herself a hero.
“I feel like a hero makes a choice, and I was just acting,” she said.
A ‘fight or flight’ response
Neither Holt nor the students in her choir class heard the gunshots.
She and the students were listening to a recording of themselves performing and analyzing it, she said.
They were interrupted by the news a shooter was on campus, prompting Holt to go into “fight or flight” mode.
“I had zero thoughts cross my mind,” she said.
She gathered the students in her office, locked the doors and used rolling mirrors, chairs and a grand piano to block the doors to her classroom. She told the students in her office to dim their phone screens and keep them on silent.
“They kept quiet amongst each other,” she said. “They were all really supporting each other the best they could.”
Holt retrieved a gunshot wound kit that was already in the classroom, something she thought she would never have to use.
“We had watched a tutorial on how to use that in one of our staff meetings and I did that the best I could,” she said.
The girl who had been shot didn’t even realize she had a second gunshot wound, Holt said. She only found out when Holt was treating her.
The student was “strong and really responsive,” but she hasn’t spoken with the student since the shooting. The student’s aunt, who also teaches at Saugus, sent Holt photos of her niece in the hospital smiling.
Being a paramedic ‘should not be part of a teacher’s job’
Holt says anyone, even her students, would’ve done the same thing she did during the shooting. That’s not something worthy of being called a hero, she said.
She did say having to switch from being a teacher to a paramedic was rough, though.
“That should not be part of the teacher’s job,” she said. “I should not feel like I needed to be trained like a paramedic to save someone’s life and deal with the consequences of that.”
While both physical and psychological wounds from the shooting are still fresh, Holt said she’s ready to go back. Her classroom was a safe space for students, and she wants to be there for them.
“I’m ready to do whatever my students need me to do,” she said. “I want to help them rebuild.”
CNN’s Faith Karimi contributed to this report.