VA Tech Tragedy Was Very Real For Local Mother

April 18, 2007
Reported By: Lee Peck

Lake Charles resident Coral Jones was working in the yard Monday morning when she got a call. "My friend told me that I needed to come in and watch the TV because there was something going on at Virginia Tech," said Jones.

She would soon learn of a gunman on a shooting rampage at Virginia Tech, the same campus where her son Brent is getting his master's degree.

"We saw Virginia Tech's engineering building... And I immediately thought of Brent because he's in the engineering program, but we had no idea what building it was or which he was in," said Jones.

Jones saw where Brent had tried to call her cell phone earlier that morning. Frantically she tried to return his call.

"I couldn't get a hold of him, so I called his roommate Josh and that was about ten 'til 11. And I couldn't get a hold of him all the circuits were busy... And I still didn't know what was going on," recalled Jones.

Minute by minute, she prayed for her son's safety as the death toll continued to rise. "It was scary because we knew it was in the engineering department... just the not knowing part," said Jones.

Jones finally received the call she had been waiting for around 11:30. "He said that he was okay, that he tried to go to class, they turned him around and he was fine. He just wanted to make sure that I knew that he was fine and that he was okay. And we were just totally relieved," said Jones.

But the news to follow would hit even closer to home. Brent's class was in Patton Hall, next door to Norris Hall, where 30 people were killed. Jones says her son is now dealing with the possibility he could have easily been a target.

"He's doing the 'what if' right now. What if I had been on campus an hour earlier, what if I had been in that building -- he was not supposed to be in that building, but what if I had been on campus at that time," said Jones.

While Jones is certain someone was watching over her son that tragic day, her thoughts remain with the victims and the loved ones they leave behind.

"I just can't even imagine the families that have lost loved ones and what they're dealing with now. The professor's families, the student's families and even the family of the shooter, the gunman....I can't even imagine."

Jones says her son did not know any of the victims, but says his roommate was in class in Patton Hall next door to Norris Hall and heard shots being fired. He and other students were evacuated to the building's basement.