COLORADO (KRDO) -- Kevin Parker was a 25-year-old volunteer at Columbine High School when shots rang out 22 years ago today.
He said he had just walked into the cafeteria when he began to hear shots. At first, he said he thought someone was firing blanks. He took cover with around 500 other people in the cafeteria -- and waited.
"You could hear a pin drop, and then we heard sporadic shots outside the cafeteria. I mean, we knew it was a very serious situation, but at the same time, it also seemed so surreal, because it just, it just didn't make sense to hear gunshots at a school," Parker said.
He remembers Dave Sanders, a teacher, and a janitor running around the cafeteria telling everyone to get down. Parker said their actions saved a lot of lives that day.
Sanders was one of 13 people who died at Columbine High School on April 20, 1999.
Parker said many of the students he worked with sought refuge at his home after the shooting. He said they began to cluster into groups depending on where they were when they started hearing the shots, bonding over shared trauma.
He said he still has lingering effects from what he went through 22 years ago.
"I wouldn't sit with my back to the door of a restaurant for the first year or two that followed, and I remember thinking I always wanted to know the escape route if anything happens, but sometimes I still do that," Parker said.
He moved away from Colorado just a couple of years after the shooting but still keeps in touch with a handful of Columbine students. He said they'll usually reach out to each other on the anniversary, this year was no exception.
"When I woke up this morning, I had a text from one of the old Columbine students," Parker said. "There's three of us that stay in really close touch."
Parker said he's glad that preventative measures have come out of that tragedy, like the Safe2Tell program that allows students to anonymously report if they have safety concerns.
"We know [that] if you see something, say something, we know mental health is really important. So, those are all things that we've been learning in the last 22 years that have that have probably stopped some school shootings," Parker said.
Parker does believe that some level of violence will always occur in our schools.
"We'll never fully prevent them. You know, these are issues in Finland, except they use knives over there, and so school violence has been part of our as been part of our history way before Columbine," Parker said.
Parker said that in mass shootings, the shooters are often remembered more than the victims. Instead of thinking about the two students who caused so much violence that day, he asks that you remember the 13 victims. Here are their names and ages:
Cassie Bernall, 17
Steven Curnow, 14
Cory DePooter, 17
Kelly Fleming, 16
Matthew Kechter, 16
Daniel Mauser, 15
Daniel Rohrbough, 15
Dave Sanders, 47
Rachel Scott, 17
Isaiah Shoels, 18
John Tomlin, 16
Lauren Townsend, 18
Kyle Valesquez. 16