Northwest DC

16-Year-Old Survivor of Van Ness Shooting Describes Terror

"I had glass in my mouth because my mouth was open and I was screaming"

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A 16-year-old girl who survived the school shooting in Northwest D.C. last week shared her story and spoke about helping a fellow student who had been hit. 

Sienna Manatos loved attending the Edmund Burke School in Northwest D.C. She said in an interview Thursday, with permission from her mother, that the shooting that wounded four people on April 22 changed everything.

Manatos was not quite halfway across an elevated walkway when its glass began to shatter. She was directly in the gunman’s line of fire. He would fire at least 200 bullets from his rented apartment above the school. 

“It looked like it was an explosion because of how fast the bullet was moving. Both sides of the glass shattered at the same time,” she said. 

“I turned and ran into the theater. I had a little bit of glass on my arm. It’s pretty superficial and gone now. I had a cut on my hand. I had glass in my mouth because my mouth was open and I was screaming,” she said.

As she made it to safety, she was followed by a student who had been injured.

“They had a lot of blood all over their arm. It was on the floor, it was on their jacket, it was on everyone’s clothes,” she said. “I took off my jacket and like wrapped it around the person’s arm.” 

First responders found the victim and took the child away. Manatos and others remained sheltered in place for hours. 

“I was scrolling through Twitter, to try to figure out what was going on, because no one had any idea what was going on,” she said. 

Then she saw video allegedly posted by the shooter. 

News4's Pat Collins reports on the Van Ness shooter's past.

“I recognize myself in the video, turning around, running away,” Manatos said. “That was the scariest part of it for me.” 

Manatos said she wanted to return to school but was unsure how she would feel about returning. 

She said she’s sure, though, that what happened should be considered a school shooting. 

“He posted the video captioned with ‘school shooting,’ and he updated our Wikipedia page to say "scene of a school shooting," so it seems very targeted,” she said. 

“When I watch the video over and over again and I see this target on my back and on the backs of the other students at my school, that feels pretty targeted to me,” she added. 

At a news conference Monday, Chief of Police Robert Contee was asked if the school was the target. He was reluctant to say yes but said his gut told him it was.

Residents of Van Ness tell News4's Aimee Cho that they are still shaken after a gunman opened fire in the neighborhood.

Nearly a week after the shooting, Manatos, her classmates and the entire school community are trying to heal. Tenth graders were supposed to have a field day on Thursday. Instead, the school was closed. 

“We were all really looking forward to it, but not anymore,” she said. 

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