News of Lecanto school shooting spread quickly by social media

Officials say protocol was followed after a student shot himself in a Lecanto High classroom, but those procedures were no match for the speed of social media.

Citrus County Sheriff Jeff Dawsy says all protocols were followed in the Tuesday morning shooting that happened at Lecanto High School. That protocol includes a reverse 911 call to parents to let them know what was happening.

However, students had already started texting and posting on social media, and as a result, parents ended up waiting hours for answers.

“I just can’t wait to get my arms around them and hug them,” parent Kimberly Billick said. “I feel so bad for that mom who won’t get to hug her kid tonight.”

Billick was one of the hundreds of parents who came rushing to the high school after getting a text from her two children saying there was a shooting after 10 a.m.

“I believe my daughter was in a locker room. They had rushed them in there,” Billick said. “When I talked to her, they were all sitting on the floor, and I think my son said he was in a closet at one point. He was just scared.”

Frank Bennett’s granddaughter was in the room next to where law enforcement say a young man shot himself in front of his classmates.

“She told me she was like a closet away from where it happened,” he said.

Bennett didn’t know until hours later the details of what happened.

“How many people are going to get shot? How many people are not going to get shot?” he said. “It’s just a horrible feeling.”

A reverse 911 call went out to parents at about 11 a.m. stating that a boy shot himself and that it was an isolated incident. Even so, parents such as Sarah Rowe wasn’t relieved until they saw their children.

“I got here, parked my car, tried to go to the school. It was a little unorganized over here,” Rowe said. “Me and a friend of mine took off and started walking through the field back there to go get our kids.”

Other parents had the same idea.

“I sat in line out there for about 45 minutes scared to death. They told me you couldn’t get your kid,” parent Sean O’Brien said. “I went around the back, found a way in and got her.”

It wasn’t until about 1 p.m. when parents could go into the high school and pick up their kids.

“I hugged them to death. It’s scary,” said Rowe, holding back tears.

Three schools sit on the property. The high school was on a “code red” lockdown, during which no one was allowed to leave campus.

The middle and elementary schools were on a “code yellow” lockdown, meaning the children had to be signed out to leave.