Molly Norton, a Manchester Community College student who was among the last to be released from the campus Wednesday evening as police searched for a reported gunman, shared her ordeal with Patch shortly after, including huddling in a darkened classroom and students going to the bathroom in bowls and buckets as they waited for police to clear the scene.
Norton, who lives in West Hartford, said she was in a ceramics class around 1:45 p.m. Wednesday afternoon when an announcement stated that the school was in lockdown.
"We all thought it was a drill, because a drill happened a week or two before, so we all thought it was just a surprise drill," Norton told Patch. "…We thought it was a joke until actually my mom called me and said 'hey, this is on the news.' So then we thought that maybe it's not a joke."
Norton said that after students began seeing news reports of the lockdown on their smart phones, they shut the lights off in the classroom and "were quiet for about three hours while we sat there."
"We basically just sat there and waited until about 6:30 p.m. for them to come and get us," Norton said. "…They knocked on the door and their was a bunch of SWAT guys at the door. They basically told us to pick up our things and get out…we were escorted through hallways and to a staging area where we got our bags checked and we got patted down."
Norton said that, while they were waiting, some students had to go to the bathroom, so her teacher developed a creative solution.
"Because it was a ceramics class, there were bowls and buckets around, so we had to set up some buckets and bowls behind the kiln and a few of my classmates had to go to the bathroom in these bowls and buckets," Norton said.
Norton's Mother, Laura Borhman, of Durham, waited at a nearby Starbucks on Spencer Street for her daughter throughout the afternoon, and was in contact with her through text messages while Norton was still lockdowned.
Borhman, who works at Wesleyan University, said she was very nervous when she first heard the news that MCC was in lockdown and that there might be a gunman on campus, because a Wesleyan student was shot on campus several years ago, but was relieved that her daughter was safe and sound Wednesday evening.
Norton said that, after students in her class realized that police had the situation "under control" and there was no serious danger, it was just a matter of waiting out the situation.
"Once we kind of learned it wasn't serious we were just bored," Norton said. "We had a bunch of clay. It was just more of a cabin fever (type of thing)."
On Wednesday evening, Manchester Police released information and a description of the suspected gunman who caused the Manchester Community College campus to be placed on lockdown for most of the day, although no gunman was found at the scene. The only injury reported was a police officer, who suffered a foot injury "as a result of an apparent accident discharge of a weapon."