The crossing guard was an older Hispanic lady who everybody called Titi. She was known for giving out peppermint Life Savers. If you were unruly waiting to cross the street, she scolded you, but if you shaped up, she gave you a Life Saver.

Some things seem to happen in a rapid blur and in slow motion at the same time. We were almost at the entrance to the yard when Titi, at her post in the middle of the street, fell.

The principal appeared at the door, and then suddenly I tuned into all the noise, him yelling for the kids to hurry, run inside, kids screaming, adults hollering, shots cracking. We were still right outside the schoolyard, too far to get to the door. We would have had to run all the way across the yard. I had two choices: run the other way, or try to hide.

Right near us there were three wire trashcans, filled to overflowing, attached by chains to the schoolyard entrance gate. I shoved and yanked Kathleen and Joy behind them and crouched down with them. Kathleen stepped right into a big pile of dog shit and started shrieking, but I held her hand tight and made her stay down.

By now I could hear the sirens. The gunfire had stopped, and Kathleen was vomiting.

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