A Saugus High School teacher was preparing to return to the campus Tuesday for the first time since last week, when a student fatally shot two classmates then himself on his 16th birthday.
Three others were also wounded when the gunfire broke out in the school's quad just before the start of classes last Thursday. The students killed have been identified as Gracie Anne Muehlberger, 15, and Dominic Blackwell, 14, while the shooter was identified as Nathaniel Berhow.
Though classes won't resume until Dec. 2, English teacher Melody Pellegrin plans to be on campus Tuesday as students are allowed to return with parents to pick up any belongings they may have left behind in the panic.
“I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else than on that campus tomorrow to welcome my students back, to give them a hug and to comfort and support them any way," Pellegrin told KTLA. "Because I was one of them.”
The teacher says she's lived in the Santa Clarita area her entire life and feels an especially strong connection to the community.
“It’s my whole world," she said. "My kids are going to Saugus.”
Pellegrin teaches expository reading and writing, a college preparatory course for seniors.
After the shooting, she wrote a 600-word Facebook post sharing how she lived through the tragedy that's since been shared more than 26,000 times. She says her class was discussing "the value of life when a student ran into my classroom frantically, shouting, 'There’s a shooter!' "
Speaking to KTLA Monday evening, Pellegrin said she "knew right away that it was real."
"I heard the screams, I saw the panic, and I heard people shuffling and coming in," she said. "Another teacher and I barricaded the doors while another teacher grabbed his golf club. We were ready to do whatever we needed to protect those students.”
Returning to normal life hasn't been easy, Pellegrin said, but she's grateful to have the strength of her community behind her.
“It haunts me. I’m thinking about it every second," she said. "It’s going to be a long road of healing for all of us, but we’re coming together to heal as a community.”
Memorials honoring the victims continue to grow at Central Park, where vigil was held Sunday, and on campus.
Correction: A previous version of this story provided an incorrect name for one of the victims. This post has been updated.