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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (WGHP) – A Mount Taber High School student shared what he witnessed when the school went into lockdown on Wednesday.

Senior Ben Kirkland told FOX8 he and his fellow classmates ran for their lives moments after the gunshot went off around noon. 

“You always think it’s not going to happen to you and then like next thing I know I’m running,” he said. 

Kirkland said he was sitting down for lunch in the cafeteria studying for a test when all of the sudden he heard a commotion around the corner. 

Moments later a school administrator started to yell out to everyone. 

“I heard him say, ‘Shooter, shooter, everybody get back’ and that’s really when it was like, ‘Whoa, this is serious,'” Kirkland said. 

He and his classmates ran to the back of the cafeteria to hide. He said within minutes they escaped through a back door.  

“I didn’t know what was going on,” he said. “None of my friends knew what was going on. All we knew is that everybody was running, so we’re going to run.” 

In those intense seconds, he said he’ll never forget the look on his classmate’s faces.  

“It was kind of hard looking at everybody, everybody’s faces when they were running, because they were running for their lives, and that hurt,” Kirkland said. “I was like, ‘Wow, this is really happening.'” 

As he was running to safety he called his mother.   

“I said I love you and that there’s an active shooter right now,” he said. “I was just thinking the whole time, ‘Will I ever see her again?’ and like ‘How will this affect me later?'”

As officers secured the campus and tried to track down the suspect Kirkland was safely moved inside to the auditorium.

He was reunited with his family five hours after the lockdown started. He said he never hugged his mother or brother tighter than that moment. 

He told FOX8 the terrifying experience will be something he’ll never forget.  

“I saw the fear and the horror on a lot of their faces, and I don’t think I’ll ever get that image out of my brain,” Kirkland said. 

Kirkland told FOX8 he did not know the victim, but his heart goes out to the family and the rest of the Mount Tabor community for healing.