Nashville TV Reporter Reveals She's a School Shooting Survivor: 'Can't Even Describe It'
"Just the shock that moves through your body, I can't even describe it. You just go into true fight or flight," said Nashville reporter Joylyn Bukovac as she opened up about surviving a shooting
While reporting on Monday's shooting at a Nashville school, a local reporter revealed she experienced a school shooting herself when she was 13.
Joylyn Bukovac with NBC affiliate WSMV stood outside of The Covenant School just after a former student opened fire, killing three children and three adults.
While reporting on the tragedy, she recalled being a 13-year-old student at Discovery Middle School in Madison, Alabama, and hiding under choir risers in her music classroom after seeing one of her classmates fatally shot.
"A lot of parents are running up to me saying that they're nervous for the future of their kids. To be honest, I'm right there with them because I've seen exactly what gun violence can do firsthand," she said.
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"I was in the hallway when the gunman at my school opened fire, shooting and killing one of my peers. Just the shock that moves through your body, I can't even describe it. You just go into true fight or flight," she said. "I hid underneath the risers in my choir class, my phone was taken away, it was turned off. I was trying to call my mom to tell her what was going on and she found out through the news."
The reporter said she can empathize with what families in Nashville went through on Monday as she reflected on what her family experienced when she survived a school shooting years ago.
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"My family from all over the country, they were trying to get in contact with me and they couldn't. It was just madness that was going on. So I knew exactly when I arrived on scene, I saw people running, people on their phones, I knew exactly what they were going through because my family was on the end of it, trying to get in contact with me whenever I was hiding."
She continued, "I desperately wanted my phone and wanted to tell them that I loved them, and that I didn't know what was going to happen."
Sharing "the hardest thing" about experiencing a school shooting, she said was "not knowing what was going to happen. I lost track of the gunman. I didn't know where he was. I was just hoping and praying under those risers that a police officer was soon gonna slide his badge under the door, which eventually did happen but it felt like lifetimes had gone by waiting to do so."
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She went on to share advice for parents whose children were affected. "Yes, I know what the students are going through and unfortunately, if you do have a student that is nearby or saw what unfolded be gentle with them. Go ahead and open up a lot of communication, offer to talk about it but if they're not wanting to that's understandable. I really wasn't ready to talk about my situation for a solid two years. It wasn't even months, it was several years."
She encouraged parents to "open up that line of communication. Offer to talk to them about that if they're ready, and if not just let them know that you're there to support them and to be there with them."
She said that she is praying for the students, adding that many people have contacted her and said it's time for a change.
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Don Aaron, the Nashville Police Department spokesman, said the shooter entered The Covenant School through the side entrance before opening fire. The shooter was engaged on the second floor of the building by two police officers who responded to a 10:13 a.m. call, Aaron said. The shooter died on scene.
Police announced that the victims were 9-year-olds Evelyn Dieckhaus, Hallie Scruggs and William Kinney, Cynthia Peak, 61, Katherine Koonce, 60, and Mike Hill, 61.
The shooter has been identified as Audrey Hale, a 28-year-old who once attended The Covenant School.
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