Friday morning started out like most others at Chapman Elementary School in Chico, but it didn't take long for that to change. It was a scene faculty, like Head Start Teacher Denise McMurray, described as tense, and frightening. "The children were outside on the playground, and I heard gunfire. I looked at another teacher that was also outside with her class room, and we both ran to our children, and I got them in as quickly as I could."
Once the students were safe and accounted for, parents and teachers locked themselves inside the class rooms, and waited 10 minutes before checking in with the office. "They were able to find out that there was actually a 21 gun salute ceremony going on close by," according to McMurray.
As it turned out, those shots came from a ceremony taking place at the veterans hall at 20th Street Park, right next to the school. The gun shots were heard clearly by teachers, but parents who were at the school helping, like Becky Barnes-Boers, say they didn't know what was happening. "At the time we didn't know they were going to be firing guns. So, she heard it, but we didn't hear it on the playground, and just the look on her face when she was running back to us said get it done, get what I say done."
Even thought the salute did give many in the area a scare, McMurray told Action News that it also provided invaluable experience. "We were really relieved that it wasn't an actual emergency, but actually really proud that the staff, and parents with us were able to follow what we were supposed to do."