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Fifth grader recalls moment she saw CA shooter grab his gun

Posted at 6:39 AM, Nov 16, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-16 06:39:40-05

RANCHO TEHAMA, CA (KRCR/CNN) – A brave, young student in the California community that suffered a shooting rampage involving at least five deaths says she warned her teachers about the shooter when he reached her school.

The school day was about to start in Rancho Tehama, CA, Tuesday when gunman Kevin Janson Neal barreled his truck through the elementary school’s gates.

"I first heard a shooting and it really scared me, and everyone was laughing because it's Rancho Tehama. You hear a lot of shootings here. Then five minutes later, there was a break in,” fifth grader Anneika Mercer said.

Anneika was waiting for the bell to ring with other students on a ramp leading up to her classroom, as chaos and fear quickly spread throughout the schoolyard.

One of Anneika’s classmates was so scared he passed out on the blacktop.

"I seen glass before I looked. I seen glass all over. Then I seen a big, giant truck in the way. Then I seen he had his gun in his hand about to shoot people, and I ran to the teacher and was like, 'Bad guy, gun,' and he let me in,” Anneika said.

The fifth grader says she was close enough to the shooter to see his face.

"He was about 12 feet away from me. He had this brownish beard with gray hairs, and he didn't have any hair,” Anneika said.

Once the students got inside, their teachers kept them calm, but even though Anneika and her classmates were brave, that doesn’t mean she wasn’t scared.

"I was actually really scared. I was at the end of the line, so it kind of scared me but I turned out to be the first one in the classroom,” Anneika said.

Anneika says the students return to school in two weeks. She says she’s not afraid to go back because “there be any bad guys anymore.”

"I feel OK that he's gone. He won't be seeing me anymore,” Anneika said.

Authorities credit the quick action of school personnel with saving dozens of students at the school. Only one student was shot while three others were injured.

Copyright 2017 KRCR via CNN. All rights reserved.