December 1, 2022

The Central Visual and Performing Arts High School, with an enrollment of about 380, and the Collegiate School of Medicine and Bioscience, which has about 260 students, are magnet high schools. At the performing arts school, which has a predominantly Black student body, students are required to audition before they are accepted to enroll.

Jawae Bronner, 15, was returning from the bathroom to his visual arts class when the “Miles Davis” notification came over the intercom. His teacher ushered him and about 20 other students into a closet.

“We’re all thinking it’s a drill,” Jawae said. When he got into the closet, Jawae texted his family to let them know that he was safe. Some of his classmates started panicking, he said. They could hear gunshots nearby, but they kept waiting.

“I felt empty, I felt really empty, I had zero emotions going through me,” he said. “I was ready to die.”

While in the closet, Jawae read a verse from the Bible from his phone, John 3:16.

“I understood that if this is my time to go, this is my time to go,” he said. He began looking around the closet for possible escape routes, including a vent. He even considered braiding blankets together to create a rope that he could hang out of a window.

Eventually, the police banged on the door and escorted Jawae and his classmates out of the school to safety.

Jenna Fisher reported from St. Louis, and Julie Bosman from Chicago. Jim Tankersley contributed reporting from Washington. Kirsten Noyes and Kitty Bennett contributed research.

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