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'Definitely nerve-racking': Licking Valley students, parents talk about swatting incident

Parents say traffic, confusion led many to parking and walking almost a mile to the schools.

NEWARK, Ohio — Students at Licking Valley Middle and High School discussed the moments that unfolded when their schools went into lockdown after reports of an active shooter situation on Friday.

“Yeah, we were just told to run and scatter,” Baden Stokes said.

Stokes says he was in third block when the radio went off and Licking Valley Middle School went into lockdown.

“And then they told us we can scatter out the back,” he said. “We opened the windows, we took out the screen protector and we all ran out the window.”

His mother Kayla says she received calls from family members who were worried about an active shooter.

“Yeah, it was definitely nerve-racking,” she said.

She says while racing to the school, she hadn’t communicated with her son.

“All the worst possible thoughts are going through my mind,” she said. “Worst possible thoughts.”

When she arrived, she was met with bumper-to-bumper traffic of other parents trying to get to their children. She was directed to park at a nearby church, then she took off on foot to make the mile hike to the school.

“We just came in here, parked,” she said. “And, I saw a group of parents walking though peoples’ yards, so I just followed them.”

“We were in fifth period and the announcement came on and she just said that we were on a level three lockdown, but it wasn’t a drill,” Bailee Wetzel said.

Wetzel is a sophomore at Licking Valley High and says students there followed protocol, went to the gym and waited. 

She was reunited with her family in an instant that brought hugs and tears.

“I didn’t think I was gonna get to,” she said of seeing her family. “I just thought I wasn’t gonna get to ever again. So, to be able to it’s just really emotional.”

What ended up being a hoax was a very real experience for families and students.

“Traumatizing,” Wetzel said. “I’ll never take ‘I love you’s’ or ‘See you tomorrow’. I’ll never take that for granted ever again because you really don’t know.”

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