UTICA, N.Y.-- For many students on the Utica College campus, nearly the entirety of Monday consisted of sheltering in place, and being evacuated into safe zones for hours on end.
A student who was inside a classroom for hours described the fear she and her peers felt when they received the alert of a lockdown on their phones.
"Immediately, I jumped under my desk, like panicking," Joanna Gaertner, a sophomore said. "Everybody in my class thought it was a drill, because things like that don't really happen, and then our phones kept going off and the alerts kept coming in."
Gaertner said the other students sprang into action, as though they had witnessed a school shooting before.
"We barricaded the desk and the big guys in the classroom sat front of the doors and made sure nobody came in, kind of protecting everyone," Gaertner said.
Other students were caught during their commute to campus. Many lived too close to the school to go back home, and had to find somewhere to wait out the lockdown.
"We live on Louis, which is pretty close," Fiona Shea, a sophomore said. "They actually blocked off our roads. A police officer asked me where I was going because he saw my Utica College sticker on my car, and I said 'I'm just trying to get home, where should I go?' He said 'Honestly, I think you should stay away from the area.'"
For the students being held inside, evacuations came after several hours. As students were escorted to safe zones by police, they say they were reminded how pervasive the fear surrounding school shootings has become.
"We all put our backpacks in the front of our chests and opened them up, because we knew what was going to happen, and we put our arms up in the air," Gaertner said. "It's scary to think that I already know that they need to check our backpacks, they need to know that our arms are in the air, I think that's terrifying to think that that's what the world is coming to."