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Francina Owens was sitting in her driverâs education class Wednesday morning when she heard a voice on a loudspeaker.
âSecurity code red. The campus is on lockdown. This is not a test,â the voice said.
Owens, a Maiden resident, was one of nearly 1,000 students on Catawba Valley Community Collegeâs East Campus when an employee spotted what appeared to be a gunman in a parking lot in front of the school.
Both the east and main campuses at CVCC were on lockdown for nearly four hours as area SWAT teams searched buildings for the suspect.
Authorities never found the reported gunman.
Owens said she was âterrifiedâ during the event.
âThe SWAT team came in and made us go like this,â Owens said, shooting her hands up to the sky. âThey made us hold our hands up, and I was terrified.â
SWAT teams searched both campuses for the suspect, before evacuating nearly 5,000 people from both areas combined.
CVCC student Jeannie Godfrey was also in class when the lockdown started.
She said she and her classmates helped barricade the door to the room they were in, trying to prevent the âgunmanâ from entering the classroom.
A SWAT team arrived to search the room.
âThey busted the door down and it didnât stop them from getting in,â Godfrey said. âThey said, âPut your hands up.ââ
She said many of the students were scared during the lockdown. Â Â
âI was scared to death and my knees were knocking,â Godfrey said. âGod almighty, I was nervous.â
While CVCCâs buildings were being searched and evacuated, rumors circled the campuses that there were two shooters, one shooter with two guns and active gunfire on campus â all of which were confirmed to be false.
CVCC did notify students via audio, visual and text message alert about the situation, The message referenced the school lockdown, but not the supposed gunman.
Word of the lockdown eventually reached parents, who arrived at the school after their children called and texted them from inside.
Janet Bandyâs two daughters were both in the schoolâs Main Campus.
âI came straight down here after hearing about it and Iâve been here ever since,â said Bandy, who communicated with her daughters via text message.
Throughout the process, Bandy said her daughters only knew the situation was a âCode Redâ and that the school was on lockdown.
Alex Woznick, too, was in the Main Campus during the lockdown in his Electronics Engineering class.
âThey made us shut off the lights, close the doors and we were getting information from peopleâs smart phones,â he said. âAt first, I thought it was a joke, but the situation was more frustrating from having to sit in the class that long."