For Kristina Anderson, the morning of April 16, 2007 began normally enough.

For Kristina Anderson, the morning of April 16, 2007 began normally enough.


A 19-year-old sophomore at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in Blacksburg, Va., she and a friend had rushed to get to their French class. Unbeknownst to Anderson and much of the campus at the time, two students had been shot in a dormitory across campus that morning.


Anderson, now 26, told a room full of local first responders her story Thursday morning at Grayson College. She described, in detail, what she experienced that morning seven years ago and how it changed her forever.


Shortly after Anderson and her friend arrived at their class in the Norris Hall building, a school shooter chained shut from the inside each of the building’s only three exits. He then walked through the hallways and began shooting students and teachers.


Anderson and her classmates heard the gunshots, which she described as "shockingly loud." Having grown up in California doing earthquake drills, she instinctively crouched under her desk and covered her head with her hands.


The shooter then made his way to Anderson’s classroom. He shot the professor and two students who were attempting to barricade the door shut, then went to the left side of the classroom.


"It was very, very quick. It was very methodical. It felt planned. He literally just kept shooting," Anderson said. "He went down the rows and just shot people one by one."


Anderson said she tried to stay completely still and quiet under her desk.


"I remember telling myself, ‘brace yourself, your turn is going to come,’" she said.


The shooter shot Anderson twice in her back. He left the room, returned a second time, and shot Anderson once again. Anderson believes he was aiming for her head, but missed. The shooter then went to the front of the classroom and shot himself.


Twelve people died in the classroom; five more were injured. One student somehow managed to not get shot.


Thirty-two students and teachers were shot and killed by the gunman that day. The attack remains the deadliest shooting incident by a single shooter in U.S. history.


Anderson described the relief she felt when first responders arrived at the classroom. A police officer picked her up and carried her out of the building and to paramedics.


For the only time in the presentation, Anderson came close to tears as she said she regrets not having called her mother sooner to let them know she was alive.


"As a daughter, for four hours not to be able to take away that pain of her not knowing if I was going to be OK, is extremely difficult," she said. "I would do anything to go back in time and have been the one to call my mother."


Since the shooting, Anderson has started the Koshka Foundation for Safe Schools. She travels the country to meet with law enforcement agencies, fire departments, EMS groups and students about campus safety and active shooter situations.


Anderson gave some advice to responders based on her story, focusing on prevention.


"If you know that someone is not doing well, if someone might be going down a pathway of violence, it is your responsibility to speak up," she said.


She encouraged responders to "push themselves outside the box" during training, as factors can be unpredictable during an actual school shooting. The police who first responded to the Virginia Tech shooting had never been trained on how to breach an entryway, she said. At the 1999 Columbine High School shooting, a fire alarm was going off and responders could not talk to each other. Anderson encouraged those present to try to prepare for any situation imaginable.


Furthermore, Anderson encouraged educating civilians on exit routes in case of an emergency.


Sherman Fire Chief J.J. Jones first heard Anderson speak at a tactical medical training course in Washington. Realizing the importance of her message, he worked to bring her to Texoma.


"This (presentation) kind of brings us all together and makes us realize that there’s a lot of preparation that needs to be done, a lot of training that needs to be done, and then a lot of follow-up," Jones said.


Anderson has been taking her story on the road for about two years.


"It’s been a really powerful journey," she said. "I view myself as very lucky to have survived. I think this is kind of my responsibility to the world, my purpose now."