The following is one of a two-part series on school shootings. The first is an intimate account of the recent shooting at Noblesville West Middle School, as experienced by CityMom Abby. The second – coming later this month – is a retelling of CityMom Jeanine’s survival of a Michigan school shooting in 1993. Both powerful, both leave many questions about the state of schools, our nation, and the safety of our children. 

A recap of the day:

Sometimes I leave my phone upstairs on my bedside table.  It’s not always with me.  On this particular Friday morning, I had put my 6 year old on the bus for school and come in to drink my coffee and catch up on some shows. It was my day off and I had not charged my phone overnight so it was upstairs charging.

school shooting - theCityMoms

I was watching 13 Reasons Why. {Spoiler, this particular episode ended with a child at a school with a gun. Timely, I know!} I was in tears, and ready for a break so I decided it was time to check my phone.

It was about 10:15am.

26 unopened messages

10 missed calls.



“Call me”

“Call ME”

“Where are you?”

“Why aren’t you answering your phone?”

Noblesville Schools:

“Shots fired at West Middle School”

“Schools on lockdown until further notice”

Mom and Sister:

“Where are you?”

“Is everything ok?”

“Is that your school?”

“Is Ella ok?”

Then I freaked out. 

What’s going on?

What’s going on?!?

Where’s West Middle School?

Why is my child’s school on lockdown?

A flurry of emotions came over me. I called my husband and we talked tensely. I turned the news on. Tears flowed. I knew it wasn’t our school, but it could have been. It was SO CLOSE. This is a school I had driven by, not too far from our home. The sun was shining – how could this be happening?

My child was in kindergarten.  She wasn’t at the school, or even close, but the entire school district was put on lockdown and received ALL the same communication that the school was sharing. It was Field Day so I worried I’ve kiddos day would be ruined.  I was worried she might be scared. I was worried she might know too much, but then I thought, maybe she knows nothing. She probably knows nothing. I don’t care, I just want her home. I just want her with me!

The texts kept coming in for the next hour. School is on lockdown. Lockdown has been lifted. New threat at high school, school is on lockdown again. {I have to say, communication of the minimal information was pretty good.} We got texts, calls and emails with the same information to make sure we were updated. I had the news on. An anchor broke down. I broke down again.

These things don’t happen here. 

I bet everyone says that, until it does. I checked the national news… nothing.

I was crying. I was glued to the TV. Texting, calling, and checking Facebook. I was lucky enough to know someone who was volunteering that day at our school and she was posting updates to the Facebook page that let us know what the kids were up to. I knew around the time of the shooting my daughter and her classmates would have been outside enjoying their field day time slot. Instead, they were rushed inside and put on lockdown. I don’t think anyone in that school aside from the teachers and faculty were aware that things were different. We heard the kids were sitting in the dark, watching movies, because “it was too hot” to continue field day and that made me feel a little better.

Around 11:30am, we got word that the lockdown had been lifted so my husband headed to the school to grab our daughter.  There was a line out front of parents waiting ready to take their kids into their arms, hug and kiss them, and take them home.  Even though everyone knew that it wasn’t our school, it was just way too close to home. I think more people were worried about the kids finding out something had happened before they could talk to them about it. The line took a while because they were releasing one child at a time.

We choose to grab Ella and take her out to lunch to discuss the situation.  There was a little fear that the big kids on the bus ride home, might somehow know something and start the talks. We wanted to talk to her about it first. We drove south towards Broad Ripple, a little ways away from the chaos, where we were hoping there wouldn’t be classmates, friends, or anyone we might run into. We were right. Down there, it was just like any other day. We made it a special day as a family, which honestly made me feel a little guilty because I know not everyone can always do these things on a whim AND it just made me think of all the other days like this – normal starting days, parents popping kids on the bus days – then getting a call/text/email from a school recently and their kids didn’t come home. I was crying on and off most of the day.

school shooting - theCityMoms

We have always talked to Ella like she was an adult. 

We’ve never really babied her or sugar-coated things, but have chosen to share things that happen with her as they do.  This was the same.  We started by asking her how her day was and she said she asked a couple teachers if they were having an Alice drill because their faces changed, but they told her it wasn’t. I love that she’s observant… and while I hate that she has the sense to notice that she could be practicing an Alice Drill, I am very happy to know that she can tell when the mood has changed and/or there might be something going on, even if it is just for a couple minutes. This makes me worry a little less for her in these situations… knowing that she can read the situation and that it’s important she follow instructions and do as she’s told.  Just a LITTLE less…

At lunch, we explained that there was something important we needed to talk to her about. We told her something had happened that day in Noblesville and that we wanted to discuss it with her. It was very important that she listened to what we say and ask questions if she had them.

Sometimes people choose to do bad things.

Here is what we said: Today, at another school, a boy came into a classroom with a gun. We don’t know too much, but he chose to shoot that gun towards some people and now there are a couple people hurt and in the hospital. We hope everyone will be ok so we should think about them and pray for them, but we came to get you today because of this. Sometimes things like this happen and we don’t always know why people act mean or hurtful like this, but we wanted you to know. We should also be thinking about all the other kids who were there today and might have been scared.

Then we continued saying things we never realized we’d need to say.

This is important why we continue to be kind to people. We need to make people feel included, welcomed, happy, loved, etc. This is why it’s important to listen to your teachers. This is why you practice those Alice Drills. This is why you need to take those drills seriously and always listen to your teacher if you are practicing those. Do you want to ask us anything about this?

Then Ella asked questions.

“Do you know why he did this?” __ No, we don’t.

“Man I bet his parents are going to be mad.”

“Did he know the people he shot at?” ___ Yes, it was a teacher and a girl student.

“Can this happen at my school?”  ___ Honestly, yes, it could but you have awesome teachers and staff at the school who will do anything to protect you. And this is why you practice those Alice Drills and like we told you earlier why it’s so important that you listen to your teacher when those are going on.

school shootings - theCityMoms

On May 29th, select theCityMoms members joined Moms Demand Action at Noblesville West Middle School for a sidewalk chalk blitz. Inspiring messages were left on school sidewalks to greet returning students following the May 25th shooting.

school shootings - theCityMoms

school shootings - theCityMoms

I never in my life thought I’d be having chats about Alice Drills and school shootings with my kids, let alone my 6 year old. We didn’t do those drills growing up… I vaguely remember doing earthquake drills – crawling under desks – and we did tornado drills all the time, but we never had to hole up in a closet with the lights off and complete silence!  We didn’t really know about, have, or talk about school shootings… I remember when Columbine happened and freaking out about people wearing trench coats, but that happened when I was in high school, not when I was in Kindergarten!

I remember the first day Ella came home and told me about her Alice drill. It made me so angry. I had a whole discussion with my husband about how they should tell us about this stuff and how traumatizing it could be for them… Now, at the end of the year, it made me grateful they did these! I don’t think they are perfect; I don’t think there is a perfect solution to deal with these crazy acts, but I think they are a step that needs to be taken in preparation.

I am just one parent who’s child was in the school district, not that school. There are probably 1000s of other accounts of the day, some way more scary and dramatic. Watching parents flood the high school to pick up their kids who had been evacuated from school that day, I know there are others who had different and probably more frightening experiences. I think though, as a parent, you put yourself in those other parents shoes.  You empathize with them. You think what if that were our school, what if that were our kids?  I think no matter your recount of the day, it’s terrifying, just on different levels. And it’s not going to get any easier…

It is important to us to provide additional resources for families coming across this post. Here are a few links we recommend:



Abigail Kellermeyer - theCityMomsAbigail Hake Kellermeyer is a former professional figure skater who works full time as a Program Specialist for Customs Border Protection. In her spare time you can find her blogging about her most recently attended CityMoms event, fun DIY how-tos and more at her own site, Little Miss Martha.

Abby lives in Noblesville with her hockey guru husband Mike and their two spitfire daughters Ella and Olive. Abby is a regular contributor to theCityMoms blog.