Coy Ferreira stood inside a rural California classroom, more than a dozen 5- and 6-year-olds huddled in the corner as a gunman sprayed bullets at the school and tried to break his way in. Ferreira was terrified that people would die.
But the doors were locked and all of the children were inside, part of a school plan the staff and students had practiced in drills and knew by heart. They barricaded the school in just 47 seconds that morning last month, probably saving the lives of countless people at Rancho Tehama Elementary School.
"They all knew what to do," said Ferreira, who was dropping his daughter off at school when they heard a gunshot nearby. "No one stumbled. No one was hiding. They just ran to their classroom, like they had been told to do."
The near-flawless response to what could have been a bloodbath during a deadly shooting rampage on Nov. 14 came almost exactly five years after 20 children and six teachers were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. That attack, which involved a mentally unstable man using an assault-style rifle, shattered the sense of security felt in the nation's elementary schools.
The massacre on Dec. 14, 2012, led to calls for gun control, as families mourned the loss of their innocent children. Five years later, little about the nation's federal gun laws has changed. But the Newtown shooting forever altered the way American schools approach safety and assess risk, ushering in an era in which schools feel particularly vulnerable to the threat of shootings and students must know what to do in case one happens.
The result is that for America's students, lockdowns like the one that helped save lives at Rancho Tehama Elementary and active-shooter training is now as commonplace as fire drills. Buzzers and locks have fortified school doors that were once left wide open. The sight of police officers, even in elementary schools, is now common. And some districts allow staff members to carry weapons at school for what they believe is an added layer of security.
"There was something about Sandy Hook," said Telena Wright, superintendent of schools in Argyle, Texas, whose district has stepped up security measures since that shooting. "It was such a massacre that I think it captured the attention of school employees and school administrators and police officers that work in schools across the nation."
One of those places was the Corning Union Elementary School District, which includes Rancho Tehama Elementary, an hour northwest of Chico in northern California.
"I have no doubt that the experience of Sandy Hook informed our response as a district, to any emergency event and to this one in particular," said Superintendent Rick Fitzpatrick.
The era of the school lockdowns started in 1999, after two students killed 13 people and themselves at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado. High schools started drills where doors are locked and windows are secured - actions meant to be replicated should there be an emergency.
After the Newtown shooting, lockdowns became a regular part of school for younger children. So, in some places, did armed officers in elementary schools.
"There was a broader awareness that elementary and middle schools were at risk as well," said Heidi Wysocki, a co-founder of Texas-based First Defense Solutions, which helps schools protect themselves and plan for shootings and other emergencies. "Nobody thinks somebody is going to murder 26 children and teachers, because it's appalling. It's just an unthinkable horror and that wasn't part of the conversation that was being had."
Sandy Hook also created a new, controversial approach to school safety: the armed assailant drill, when schools run a scenario involving a mass shooter, sometimes including police in the exercise. The practice has drawn scrutiny, some criticizing it as being potentially traumatizing for students, especially those in younger grades.
In Akron, Ohio, schools started active-shooter training around the time of the Sandy Hook attack. The shooting also spurred the district to retrofit some schools with secondary doors, buzzers and thick glass.
The district now runs active-shooter drills four times a year, drills that are tailored to each age group, said Dan Rambler, the district's director of student support services and security. Parents are invited to watch training videos and give input.
In younger grades, the issue is addressed as one of stranger danger. But children, he said, often know what is happening: Rambler's son was in kindergarten during one of the first training sessions and told his father that while it focused on bad people, "there are people who go to schools and shoot people," Rambler remembers the boy saying.
Jeff Fritz, superintendent of schools in Clay County, Indiana, said that when he started his career as an educator 35 years ago, the "doors were wide open" at the school where he worked. No more.
The county's 4,000 students now drill for an active shooter. Fritz said students are taught to run, hide or fight - with fighting being the very last option.
"It's no different than we do with tornado drills or fire drills," he said. "This has been in the forefront. I tell our staff and our students our number one priority, above test scores or building projects . . . is school safety."
Some states and districts are allowing staff members to carry weapons at schools. At least eight states allow concealed-carry permit holders to have a firearm at a K-12 school, according to the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence.
In Argyle, Texas, signs outside schools say staffers are armed and "may use whatever force is necessary to protect our students." It was a decision, Wright said, that stemmed directly from Sandy Hook.
When officials in the Briggsdale School District in rural Colorado heard about the shooting at Sandy Hook, they kept thinking about the time it would take police to respond to their schools. In their remote area of northern Colorado, emergency response was likely to take a minimum of 25 minutes.
Now there are staff members who carry concealed guns and have been trained to act as security guards if needed. Their identities are secret. Superintendent Rick Mondt said response from parents has been positive: They feel better with the school not being a soft target.
"We've had parents who brought their kids here because of this," he said.
Some of the parents of the children killed in Newtown have channeled their grief into making schools safer.
Michele Gay and Alissa Parker co-founded Safe and Sound Schools, which looks to improve school safety through training, discussion and partnerships. They both lost daughters at Sandy Hook; Gay's 7-year-old, Josephine, and Parker's 6-year-old, Emilie. Gay said there has been a profound shift in the way schools think about safety and plan for the worst, with parents and students now heavily involved, and much greater collaboration between different agencies and groups.
Mark Barden, whose 7-year-old son Daniel was killed, co-founded Sandy Hook Promise with Nicole Hockley, who lost her son, Dylan. The organization is working in all 50 states with schools and other organizations to teach the warning signs often exhibited by potentially violent people both in person and on social media.
Barden said the past five years have been "indescribably difficult and challenging." He said he is honoring Daniel's memory by making schools safer and saving lives.
"Hopefully, if we have this conversation in five or 10 years, we're not going to need to be training our kids with how to deal with an active shooter," he said.
But school shootings continue unabated. Beginning with Columbine 18 years ago, more than 135,000 students attending at least 164 primary or secondary schools have experienced a shooting on campus as of April 2017, according to a Washington Post analysis of online archives, state enrollment figures and news stories. That doesn't count dozens of suicides, accidents and after-school assaults that have also exposed children to gunfire.
There have been at least three shootings at K-12 schools this school year. In September, a 15-year-old student in Rockford, Washington, killed one student and injured three others; that same month, a 14-year-old student shot and wounded a classmate in Mattoon, Illinois. Two students were killed Thursday in a high school shooting in Aztec, New Mexico, after a 21-year-old local resident entered the school pretending to be a student and carried out what authorities said was a planned attack with a legally purchased Glock handgun; the gunman also died.
"We obviously do drills and hope that nothing ever happens," said Aztec Municipal School Superintendent Kirk Carpenter. "Our staff and even our substitutes reacted in a way that saved a lot of lives."
In Rancho Tehama, California, officials credit their drills, quick action by staff and parents and a measure of good fortune for ensuring that no one was killed in the November attack there.
Ferreira and his 5-year-old daughter were standing outside before school, when they heard a pop. He thought it was a firecracker. But it was loud enough that some children dropped to the ground.
When the school secretary heard two more bangs, she announced a lockdown.
A teacher called for everyone to get inside. Ferreira heard a crash, as the gunman's truck smashed into the elementary school's gates. He told his daughter to run and urged other children to get inside.
Everyone quickly made it into classrooms, except for one little girl who was across the playground, too scared to move. Ferreira ran to her, scooped her up and ran her inside. He looked out the window, and the teacher told him to move away.
The blinds fell back into place as he stepped back, and bullets began smashing through them.
The children didn't move or make a sound. Just as they had practiced.
Ferreira thought about Sandy Hook and the teachers who died to protect children. He thought maybe he could use the fire extinguisher as a weapon if the shooter got through the door.
But the door was locked. The children had gotten inside. Two little boys were hiding under desks. One of them, Alejandro Hernandez, was bleeding; he was hit once in the foot and once in the lung by bullets that went through the wall.
Alejandro didn't cry. Only later did he tell Ferreira, "I want to be with my mommy."
The gunman left the school, unable to get in. Law enforcement officers took over, and Alejandro was taken to the hospital. He is back home now, too scared to go back to his classroom, unwilling to talk about the shooting, but recovering well enough to no longer need painkillers for his wounds. His mother, Angelica Monroy, is grateful the school locked down so quickly.
"I really . . . " she said, struggling to compose herself. "I thank them so much for everything."
In those few seconds that day, the children followed the drill they had practiced. The adults knew what to do.
If not for the lessons of Sandy Hook, if not for their plan, if it had all been like any other Tuesday morning, parents and school officials shudder to think what might have befallen Rancho Tehama.
"He would have caught us all outside," Ferreira said. "He would have had free range."
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - President Donald Trump has jumped into a contentious Senate race here in recent days, supporting embattled Republican Roy Moore in an election that neared the finish line Sunday under the glare of a national spotlight.
Trump's 11th-hour imprint was splashed across the front pages of the state's biggest newspapers over the weekend, as he championed Moore at a rally across the state border with Florida, recorded a phone call urging voters to vote Republican and branded Moore's Democratic opponent a "Pelosi/Schumer Liberal Democrat" to his more than 44 million followers on Twitter.
But even as Trump has remained popular among Republican voters in this staunchly conservative state - and a troubling figure to many Democrats - it was unclear as the campaigns honed their closing arguments over the weekend how much impact the president would have in a race that has become all about Moore.
A long-polarizing figure, Moore's reputation for controversy grew last month after The Washington Post published the accounts of four women who said Moore made advances toward them when they were teens and he was in his 30s. One of the accusers said she was 14 at the time.
Several voters said in brief interviews on Sunday that Trump was not a leading factor in their decision. Democrats said their vote reflected their protest of Moore's positions and controversies, while Republicans said they admire Moore for weathering accusations they believe are false, for his conservatism and for refusing to give into the Republican establishment.
In Blount County, where Trump won nearly 90 percent of vote last year, several Republicans running errands and having lunch said that they had decided to vote for Moore long before Trump told them to do so - and despite the published reports.
"I think the voters have basically made their minds up because they see through this garbage," said David Clevenger, 61, a Moore supporter who also voted for Trump last year, and who said he does not believe the women who have accused Moore. Asked what impact Trump's endorsement will make at this point, he shook his head and said: "None."
His wife of more than 40 years, Teresa Clevenger, agreed and added: "We believe in thinking for ourselves."
More than 35 miles southwest in Democrat-heavy Birmingham, Chris and Debbie Soniat, a married couple who have been volunteering for Jones, said in an interview that their vote is about stopping Moore than it is about stopping Trump.
"In a way, Roy Moore is just his own, weird - I mean, I think he would institute sort of his own version of Sharia law if he had he the chance, you know?" said Chris Soniat, 68, a self-identified independent. "Banning homosexuality. Banning Muslims from participating."
"To me, he represents the worst of the values of the Old South," said Debbie Soniat, speaking of Moore.
The 65-year-old nurse, a Democrat, said the outcome of the 2016 election has spurred her to be more politically active. She traveled to Washington for the Women's March with her daughter and is trying to stay active in politics.
She said she is worried that Trump's last minute push is helping Moore's chances.
"I'm afraid it is," she said.
Yet Trump's support has been qualified. While the president has made a big push for Moore, he has done so from afar - avoiding joint photo ops or other visuals that could haunt Trump if Moore loses. Trump appears to be setting himself up to claim credit if Moore wins while allowing himself to claim some distance if he loses.
With just two days left until Tuesday's election, Jones and Moore took sharply different approaches. Moore stayed off the campaign trail while Jones barnstormed the state with an entourage of high-profile African American surrogates.
In Birmingham, Jones addressed supporters alongside Rep. Terri Sewell, D-Ala., and Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., a potential 2020 presidential candidate. They did not mention Trump in their pitch inside a packed campaign office, where the smell of pizza wafted through the air and organizers geared up for a busy afternoon of phone calls and canvassing.
Instead, they sought to hit aspirational notes about Alabama putting its best foot forward.
"Don't let anyone tell you this is an election of choices to what Alabama wants to be. It is not that. We know who we are, Alabama," said Jones. "This is an election to tell the world who we are."
Booker called the race one of "the most consequential elections" of his lifetime and took an implicit dig at Moore.
"Please, I'm from Jersey," said Booker. "We definitely don't want some people just singling out a few folks on the 'Jersey Shore' TV show and thinking that's my entire state. No, there is goodness and decency and mercy and love here."
When a reporter asked Jones afterward about Trump's recent criticism of him, Jones avoided engaging with the president - much as he has throughout the campaign.
"I don't have a message to President Trump," Jones said, before quickly pivoting to other topics. It's been a strategy of necessity in a state that leans far to the right and where a Democratic upset is possible only by winning an ample share of crossover Republicans.
In a state where ideological conservatism and passionate opposition to abortion define the GOP, many of those Republican voters are expected to remain out of reach to Jones, who supports abortion rights.
Trump has not been shy about picking a fight. He has repeatedly branded Jones as an ally of polarizing national Democratic figures including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y.
If Jones wins on Tuesday, the GOP's Senate majority would narrow to 51-49, making the already difficult task of shepherding a legislative agenda even more difficult for Trump.
Raj Shah, a White House spokesman, said Trump recorded a call supporting Moore on Saturday. On Friday, Trump touted Moore at a rally in Pensacola, Florida. His appearance was widely covered by Alabama news outlets.
The Moore campaign did not respond to a request for comment on the recorded calls.
Moore has eagerly embraced Trump's last-minute campaign on his behalf and has cast himself as a natural ally of the president who will go to go to Washington and immediately champion his agenda.
The former judge seemed keen on letting Trump lead the way for him down the stretch. Moore did not host any publicly announced events over the weekend, and his tweets have pertained almost exclusively to the president's support.
Senate GOP leaders have called on Moore to drop out of the race in the wake of a series of accusations that Moore, now 70, aggressively pursued teenage girls when he was in his 30s.
Moore has denied the accusations and said in an interview with a local television station over the weekend that the women who have accused him of sexual misconduct were engaged in "ritual defamation" against him.
"I do not know them. I had no encounter with them. I have never molested anyone," Moore said. "When I saw the pictures on the advertisements of my opponent, I did not recognize any of these people."
Moore has spoken inconsistently about the allegations against him, telling Fox News host Sean Hannity in a radio interview last month that he may have dated young girls years ago - with parental permission - but that he did not recall dating any of the women who had accused him of making unwanted advances when he was in his 30s and they were teenagers. He said in that interview that he knew two of the women when they were teens, and described each as a "good girl."
Moore said a victory for him would end the story.
"I've stood up for moral values, so they're attacking me in that way," he said. "When this race is over, on the 12th of December, it will be over."
While reporting a story in Alabama about supporters of Moore's Senate campaign, a Post reporter heard that Moore allegedly had sought relationships with teenage girls. Over the ensuing three weeks, two Post reporters contacted and interviewed four women. All were initially reluctant to speak publicly but chose to do so after multiple interviews, saying they thought it was important for people to know about their interactions with Moore. The women said they did not know one another.
Senate Republican leaders have been grappling with difficult questions about what to do if Moore is elected on Tuesday. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has said that the Senate Ethics Committee - a panel of three Republican and three Democratic senators - could swiftly begin investigating the accusations against Moore.
Trump's involvement in the campaign seems to have followed the mood in the state as documented through polling and media reports.
In the Republican primary, Trump endorsed Moore's rival, Sen. Luther Strange, who was appointed by the governor to fill the seat vacated by Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Trump quickly endorsed and embraced Moore once he became the nominee - but then authorized the Republican National Committee to pull funding from the race when accusations emerged last month.
Trump refused to answer any questions about Moore, although the White House did not withdraw his endorsement. After Moore stayed in the race and polls tightened, Trump started attacking Jones - and then, after testing the waters, started once again directly telling voters to vote for him. He also directed the RNC to jump back in.
"A big contingent of very enthusiastic Roy Moore fans at the rally last night," Trump tweeted on Saturday. "We can't have a Pelosi/Schumer Liberal Democrat, Jones, in that important Alabama Senate seat. Need your vote to Make America Great Again! Jones will always vote against what we must do for our Country."
David Weigel in Washington contributed to this report. Johnson reported from Oneonta, Alabama, and Sullivan reported from Birmingham.