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'I was so scared' | Hammond High graduate remembers moment celebration turned to chaos

“I went to graduation happy, all kinds of makeup, and beautiful, coming home with blood dripping down my clothes and hands."

HAMMOND, La. — It was a graduation Bethany Dragg was excited for, being part of Hammond High School’s class of 2022.

“This is the graduation invitation,” said Dragg as she unfolded it from a pristine white envelope. “I was so nervous. I cried that morning. I told my mom, ‘I don’t know if I’m ready.’”

Dragg says Thursday night started out being a picture-perfect graduation at the University Center on the Campus of SLU. Her parents, best friend, boyfriend, and boyfriend’s mom were all there to celebrate her.

“I was so excited,” she said.

Once she had her diploma, the celebration turned to chaos.

“We just hear the pow, pow, pow,” Dragg said. “I was so scared.”

In a crowed parking lot after the ceremony, police say two people started shooting at each other, but ended up shooting three bystanders. One alleged shooter, Trent Thomas, 20, was arrested. Police are still searching for the other, believed to be a juvenile.

“The only thing I knew to do was to push my son and his girlfriend and just told them to run and that’s all I could do was just tell them to run,” Tasha Camille, the mother of Dragg’s boyfriend, said.

Camille says their group was just feet away from the first shots.

“Just the thought to know that within a split second my child, my son’s girlfriend, her friend, any person could have been killed,” Camille asdi.

“Just hearing it traumatized me,” Dragg said. “I can’t get that sound out of my head now.”

Trying to get away, Dragg says she fell, hitting her face on the concrete.

“I went to graduation happy, all kinds of makeup, and beautiful, coming home with blood dripping down my clothes and hands,” Dragg said.

That’s a memory Dragg’s boyfriend, Lucius Way, wishes he could erase.

“It’s heart breaking know that she has to live with this her entire life,” Way said. “Yeah, we all witnessed it, but it was her graduation.”

Knowing how lucky they are, Dragg holds on the good memories from graduation, but says the bad are still haunting.

“Graduation. Guns. Shooting. Pow, pow, pow,” Dragg said. “That’s all you’ve got to think about.”

Police say that shooting stemmed from an altercation between the two shooters, believed to be gang related. One of the people shot is still in the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. The other two were released.

Security is being enhanced for the three remaining graduation ceremonies this weekend at the University Center. Once they’re over the university will review protocols and safety measures for future events.

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