Palmyra man describes evacuating deadly Michigan high school shooting
MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- A Palmyra, Wisconsin man is sharing his story after working in the Michigan high school where four people were shot and killed when a student opened fire. Bob Werner is now safely home, just hours after police rushed him out of the building.
Werner's company installs high-tech machinery and equipment in high schools throughout the Midwest. The three-day jobs usually require routine installation and training. This week's trip to Oxford, Michigan was a favor to a client, but it did not go as planned.
Werner and his colleague were finishing up the assembly phase of their latest job when they heard an announcement over the loudspeakers. But he said, "It wasn't for us, so we didn't really listen to it because we were engaged in what we were doing."
Werner has worked in high schools for 30 years, and commotion in the hallways isn't out of the ordinary. But then an officer in full combat gear knocked on the door and told them to follow him. Werner remembers asking an officer, "I thought 'it's pretty strange, is this a drill?' He said, 'Oh no. This is the real thing. We have an active shooter.'"
He said, "We did notice there were blood drops on the floor out in the hallway as we were being escorted out."
Hundreds of law enforcement officers had responded within minutes, taking the shooter into custody. "There were all kinds of police officers coming in. FBI, the Marshals, just a ton of people coming in." At the time, Werner did not know how close he was to danger, only learning Wednesday the shooter was within 150 feet of their location.
Police sent them out to their truck, where they waited for two-and-a-half hours, witnessing the aftermath and the emergency response. He said, "We did see a couple groups of students being escorted out of the building with their hands in the air. At one point there were four ambulances bringing stretchers into the building."
Werner is quick to say he did not go through the same trauma the students, staff and their families went through. But on the seven-and-a-half-hour drive home Wednesday, he had plenty of time to think about the next job. "Maybe say a little prayer before we go into every building, right?"
Werner says he works with schools all the time, adding he can't say enough about the job teachers are asked to do, not just teaching the curriculum, but understanding what students go through outside the building and what they bring in.
Four of the seven wounded victims remain hospitalized, with one 17-year-old in critical condition and another 14-year-old in serious condition.
Authorities have not yet determined a motive for the shooting. The suspect made his first court appearance on Wednesday and entered a plea of not guilty.
School officials met with the suspect on the day before the shooting to discuss "concerning" behavior. Officials say the evidence suggests the shooting was planned "well before" it occurred.