Talon News - Good Local News

By Jessica Selph



January 5, 2018

File Photo

The sign at the front of the school became a makeshift memorial to honor the victims of the shooting

The following are excerpts from the first person account of Emery Hill in an exclusive interview with TALON.

When Hill was able to continue, he said, "So I got up and started going across the catwalk and I was trying to watch, to make sure he didn't somehow just start coming back upstairs or something, so I was still being pretty cautious. In an active shooter situation, a lot of those shooters like to play dead, lay dormant, wait for an easy target. As I walked back across the catwalk, I got on the radio and said 'Shooter is down in the 500 hall.' That's when I saw an Aztec police officer outside and I started waving at him. He saw me and he got on the radio to his buddy and then a few seconds later I heard two shots from downstairs but it was different shots, due to the cops having to break the window to get in. I heard the cops coming up the stairs, I could see their gun coming around the corner and I heard one of 'em say 'look out!' and I dropped to the floor. It was Captain Morris and it took him a second even to realize who I was because I was laying on the floor with my hands spread out. I was pointing at the kid over there, so they turned and secured the kid. Lieutenant Gonzales was with the shooter and Captain Morris came down to where I was at in the hallway because we didn't know if there were multiple shooters or what.

There was so much smoke. A lot of people were saying that was his plan, to set off the fire alarms by pulling the station. He didn't pull the station, it was the smoke from the gun shooting in an enclosed space, that's what set off the alarm ... That's one thing I'm extremely grateful for, is by having the radio I was able to tell them (the office) there was a shooter and they got on the intercom saying 'do not evacuate!' I think that helped end the situation faster, because nobody came out."

Hill continued, "When the cops came in to clear the rooms I gave them my keys and told them who I was, that I knew what key went where ... They put me with a group of them and I helped clear the 900 floor, going with them opening the doors and letting them in. We cleared all the buildings ... They physically cleared each floor, each classroom, each closet ..."

For Hill, the ordeal began just after 8 am, but the day was far from over. After helping to clear the buildings, he still had to help police officers piece together the actions of the shooter. He describes December 7th as "the longest day of my life." He said his perception of time was "way off" and he kept thinking to himself "what the hell just happened?" That's where the hard part comes. When your brain must accept that this really did happen. We really did have an active shooter at Aztec High School. Emery Hill really did, through his bravery, save the lives of many.

My final question for Hill was whether or not he's been able to regain any sense of normalcy. He was quick to answer, "I'm sure looking for that. I'm trying and I appreciate everybody and their support. You know it's just, everybody is different. Shoot I've been doing the fire department for 20 years and I've been on bad calls, hard calls with little kids involved, but we get there after the fact. During the fact, that's different." That tells me that the answer to my question is no. Things are not yet back to normal, for any of us I think. And it may never be. We must all accept a new normal.

Hill's training with the Cedar Hill Fire Department, and the extensive training for active shooter situations given by our school district, prepared him to act in the manner that he did.


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