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Voices of School Shooting Survivors

I Was Held Hostage by a Gunman for Eight Hours in High School

It’ll be 26 years come May 1, and I still have severe PTSD.
Photo courtesy the author (left). Image by Lia Kantrowitz

This article is part of the Voices of School Shooting Survivors project, a series by intended to shine a light on victims of school shootings across the country.

On May 1, 1992, a gunman killed a teacher and three students and held more than 80 people hostage for more than eight hours at Lindhurst High School in Olivehurst, California. Lynn Davis was held hostage that day and lost her cousin Judy Davis in the attack.


It was the last period of the day, and I had science class with Ms. Caprile. We were working on our science projects, so we were in the library in Building C. I was checking out a book and looked at the clock—it said it was 2:10 PM. At that very moment, I heard a loud noise that sounded like someone was kicking the lockers. I turned around to see my classmates on the ground crawling for cover, but I was so confused that I walked as I followed them into the librarian’s office asking what was going on. I’d never heard a gunshot before, so I didn’t know that was what the noise was.

There were 13 of us students huddled together in the librarian’s office. We were in there until about 6 PM when Andy Parks, who was ordered by the gunman to get us out of the library, broke through the emergency exit and ordered us to follow him upstairs to where the gunman was along with a large bunch of students. [Editor’s note: The shooter coerced students to bring him additional hostages by threatening to kill their peers if they didn’t comply. Eventually, he held more than 80 students hostage.]

As I was walking to the staircase to go upstairs, I saw blood and asked another student, Wilson Mayo, who was shot. He said it was our friend Wayne Boggess. I went upstairs and sat with a group of my friends. Christy Specklemeir and I were very close friends so we huddled together for support.

I didn’t know the gunman before the shooting or know anything about him. It happened my freshman year, and he was six years older than me. Jason White, who was also murdered that day, knew him, and my cousin Lori, who was Judy’s sister, went to school with him.


He was polite to us, but he had the authority in the room. He was talking to the negotiator the entire time I was there. He requested food and drinks, and he allowed a few hostages out for each request that was honored by the negotiators. He picked out students who were sick and those who were freaking out and allowed them to leave. Around 10 PM, I was released along with Christy, because I said I had a headache. After I was released, the SWAT Team rushed in and he surrendered. It was over by 10:30 PM.

I want people to understand just how much damage this causes for the survivors. It’ll be 26 years come May 1, and I still have severe PTSD.

After I was briefed by the police and released to my parents, I arrived at Yuba Gardens Middle School, where our parents were waiting. I found my parents and my sister and we hugged and talked, and then I saw my uncles Monty and Tim. Uncle Monty was Judy’s dad. That was when I found out that people were reporting that Judy was gone.

I was pretty numb to everything after I was released. I had nightmares for weeks after and never really came to terms with losing her. I did, however, want to keep her memory alive as much as possible. That’s why it’s important to me to share my story, because I for one don’t want Judy, Jason, Beamon, and Mr. Brens forgotten. I want people to understand that this kind of stuff has to stop.

I never thought about gun violence before the shooting. Some people had guns for hunting, but I wasn’t living in the country, so I wasn’t around them at all. I’ve never to this day touched a gun, and when I see one, it gives me flashbacks.


But I never blamed the gun. I know that it’s the unbalanced person with the gun that was the problem. The gunman had a rough life and blamed everyone else for his problems. He couldn’t take responsibility for his own actions. I think that the root cause of gun violence is parents who are more worried about giving their kids material possessions than showing them love, because they’re never home. I think it’s violent video games, which makes people think that violence is always the solution. I think it’s because kids aren’t taught to have respect for others. It’s bullying and schools not being able to stop it. I do believe that the best way to fix the issue has to start at home.

But I do feel it’s about time for changes to be made to gun laws. Things have to be put in place to ensure certain people don’t get access to weapons. I think that the rules need to be tightened, making it harder for people to obtain guns. I think people should have to go through a mental health evaluation before they can obtain a gun. And I believe assault rifles should be banned altogether. There is no need to have those types of guns. They are only designed to kill people.

Making sure guns don’t get into the hands of people who are mentally ill is not going to fix the problem. I do believe that if someone is hell-bent on doing harm to someone, they will find a way. But it will definitely help. Trump’s response [advocating for a ban on bump stocks] was the first smart thing that idiot has ever done. He has given me a glimmer of hope that he may actually help get something done. I just hope he follows through.


I think this generation is already too messed up to fix, so we just need to be proactive in doing everything we can to prevent guns getting into the wrong hands. We have to start getting back to basics with the young kids in order to raise them in a kind and loving environment. Teach them respect and common sense. Showing them love and teaching them to love others is important. Teach them that violence is never the answer.

I want people to understand just how much damage this causes for the survivors. It’ll be 26 years come May 1, and I still have severe PTSD. I still have a very hard time talking about it. I get anxiety attacks. I have agoraphobia. I’m afraid of large crowds. I sit in corners in order to make sure I don’t have someone come up behind me and I can keep an eye on everyone. I’m afraid of seeing a gun. I can’t enjoy fireworks because they sound too much like gunshots.

I will never be the same. I lost my innocence that day and lost a family member in the process. I also had another cousin there that day named Mariya Yanez who was wounded. We can’t let this happen again. We must be proactive in fixing the situation.

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