Student Testimony – Janett Serrano

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Photo by Taylor Finelli.

Janett Serrano

Junior, International Business Major

   Hello, I am a student at UNLV. I was in Frank and Estella Beam Hall when I heard the first round of shots. I was late to class, along with others. There was a presentation going on, and I wanted to give respect to my peers as they worked so hard to present that day. I, along with others, was talking about finally getting to have a good winter break, a good break from school and hanging out with family. A young man spoke about his graduation happening this semester, complaining about the prices of the gowns. Who wouldn’t? But we congratulated him. Another young lady discussed a peer review assignment that needed to be done for our class, MGT 371, in room 104. We talked about our experiences with the class and told jokes to ease a young gentleman who was nervous their group was last to present. He wanted to end the semester well. 

   Then, we heard it. At first, we joked and ignored it, thinking it was something falling or construction. How could we know? I know shootings were happening in schools, but never in millions of years would I have thought UNLV would be on the list. We kept speaking, hoping the presentation would be over so we could all enter and have our last lecture over already. 

   Then the second round hit. There was screaming. I saw people trip and fall, not knowing if they were shot or if they tripped while they were running. I felt the active shooter was getting close. Was he? I would never know. It was a gut feeling. I knew if I was out there longer, my name would be on the list of victims. We all ran. Some ran out the exit door, but the young gentleman ran into the classroom and told everyone to get down. He told everyone there was an active shooter in the school. The majority were in disbelief. I threw my phone far away from another direction to cause a distraction that was away from our area, just in case. You never know.

   I remember there was a student who had a kid. I needed her to see her kid again. I ran inside the room and made sure everyone was hiding or away from the door. I saw no one else outside and closed the door quickly. I threw my stuff and myself to the floor and didn’t dare to look anyone in the eye. Everything hit at once. Tears fell from my face. I had to throw my phone. I didn’t say I love you to my loved ones. I was going to die alone. I was going to be found dead, and my family didn’t have the chance to say a final goodbye. These were thoughts going through my mind, but I felt someone hold my hand. I didn’t look still, but I held their hand tight. I knew it was a young lady who, in class, always made her point across in discussions, a strong woman. One student was trying to calm me down. He made sure that I needed to calm down. He tried to make sure I was calm, but I knew he was scared. He needed to make sure I shut up. He wanted to survive. I don’t blame him. I took comfort from his words and still let the tears fall. My professor turned off the lights, and the silence was an eternity. It felt as if any moment the active shooter was going to barge in and end us there. But the moment never came. Then, it happened. Our professor told everyone to get out and run. Everyone did. I wanted to find my phone to at least call my loved ones, but I couldn’t. I ran. A young lady was nice enough to lend me her phone to try to call my family, but the signal was terrible. Then we heard shots again. Everyone ran. I gave the phone back to the girl and hid. I needed to calm down. Then, I saw someone. With a gun. In a black coat. My heart dropped. I ran far away. I was crying hysterically, but I went to an institute to catch up with my friend. 

   I am fortunate that hours later, I got to see my family. I am not ok. I will never be ok. My family went through a scare when they shouldn’t have. I don’t want prayers. I want Justice and Answers. I question my version of even seeing the shooter. Was he wearing a cloak? Did I even see the gun? Am I sure it wasn’t the police? Did this happen? Do I have the right to feel unsafe and sad? I know I am fortunate to be safe along with not witnessing anything that could have made my situation worse. I lost some things that are replaceable. I am angry. I don’t want this to be a trend in the media and then for it to be forgotten. I will never forget. I want whoever is reading this to remember my story, burn it in your brain, and understand this is a problem happening in our country.

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