Michigan State University student Claire Papoulias told CNN she was inside the classroom that the suspect shot into Monday night, adding that a couple of students who were brave enough to smash open a window and assisted students to climb out, helped save lives.
Papoulias, 19, who is a sophomore studying psychology, was taking a history class on Cuba inside Berkey Hall when the shooter opened fire in her classroom, Papoulias said.
“The teacher was presenting a lesson and all of sudden I heard gunshots directly behind me. That’s when the shooter opened the back classroom door and started firing at my classmates in the back, wounding them. I smelled and saw the gunpowder,” Papoulias said.
“Everyone then dropped to the floor immediately and someone started yelling ‘Shooter, everybody get down!’” she told CNN.
Papoulias said she remembers thinking she was going to die but still tried her best to comfort her classmates.
“I thought I was going to die. We didn’t know where he went. Everyone was on the ground huddling, and I just looked at my classmates and told them it was going to be okay,” she said.
According to Papoulias, the shooter shot three to four times in her classroom before exiting the room and leaving the door wide open.
“Someone got up and ran to the door to close it after he left. Then we started barricading ourselves in the classroom while other students tried to smash the window open so we could escape,” she said.
While some students tried to smash the window open, other students tried to aide to the wounded, Papoulias said.
“One student took his shirt off and tried to stop the bleeding. I heard another student yell, ‘Oh my God, my arm,'” she told CNN.
Once students were able to smash the window open, they began to jump out the first-floor classroom and run to safety, according to Papoulias.
“There was a boy on the other side of the window catching people who were jumping out the window. He stood there and risked his life to catch people,” Papoulias said.
“If they didn’t bust open the window and barricade the door with the table then the shooter would’ve done a lot more damage and taken more lives. My classmates helped everyone and were all in it together,” she said.
Papoulias told CNN she ran straight to her dorm where she stood until she was told it was safe to come out.
“My feet hit the ground running. I forgot everything I owned because that didn’t matter. I was focused on making it out alive. I jumped out the window and I ran as fast as I could,” she said.