ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — The morning of January 5, freshmen Skylynne Delgado and Ashley Rodriguez said they had just gotten onto the grounds of Franklin High School (FSH), when a single gunshot rang out. The two ran to the front doors, only to find them locked.
Delgado said she crouched down, praying, as multiple bullets flew past her.
“What was going through my mind was, ‘I just need to hurry up and get into this building because I’m not trying to get shot’ and I was worried for the people around me, too,” Delagado said. “I can still hear the gun shots, you know, everything going — rewinding [it] and stuff.”
As the two crouched in front of the locked door, they said the shooter approached them, firing once or twice more, missing the girls by mere inches.
“They could hear us banging,” Rodriguez said about people — including security guards — who were behind the locked doors. After the gunshots rang out, they, too, reflexively ducked, the girls said.
“We were ringing the buzzer, we was banging on the door,” Delagado added.
While two were quickly buzzed in, they said the small handful of seconds between the first shot and the door opening felt like a lifetime. As the shooter approached, Rodriguez said she heard the gun jam, and the bullets stopped. She believes this saved their lives.
“I feel like god was with us at this moment, because that gun got jammed real quick,” Delagado said. “I feel really lucky to be alive still.”
A day after the shooting, security footage of the incident was leaked to social media. The Rochester Police Department said that a 16-year-old FSH student had been the target of the shooting.
“We saw the boy and he just looked like he got out of a fight, or he was scared,” Delgado said. “And he was huffin’ and puffin’. So we just went up the stairs and we heard a gunshot — and he just ran.”
The incident had started a few blocks away, but ultimately ended at the doors of the school, involving bystanders Delagado and Rodriguez.
Neither girl has been in class since, afraid the shooter may come back to target them.
They and their parents have many complaints about how Rochester City School District (RCSD) handled both the shooting and the leaked footage.
“They should have talked [to us], and been like, “This is what happened, this is the information, that was going on,’ but they just kept it in secret,” Rodriguez said. “They was just worried about, ‘Oh, when are you going back to school?'”
Although the district has suspended four employees for the leaked footage, the families argue that’s not good enough, and want whoever is responsible fired. They claim that the district and FHS misrepresented the event in their initial communications with parents, refusing to let them see the security footage, and have barely checked in on either girl’s well-being after the deeply traumatic event.
Shortly after it happened, Delagado’s parents came in to speak with the FHS principal Richard Smith. But they said they were turned away.
“We stood there waiting over a half an hour in the office,” Delgado’s father, Alberto Delgado, said. “And I was wondering, ‘Well, what’s going on? The principal’s not coming down.’ And [the secretary] said she’s going to go speak to him right now. When she came back, she told us that he said that we need to make an appointment to be able to see him — when he was right there — and he didn’t want to come speak to us. That made me very upset. [He], as a principal, should be there to explain to us what’s going on.”
A spokesperson for the school district said that RCSD shares the families outrage of the surveillance footage being released without their consent.
They also clarified that RCSD superintendent Dr. Carmine Peluso has spoken with the families since the incident, and sent a counselor to check on the girls. But the girls said the counselor only seemed interested in when they would be returning to class.
Joanna Dejesus, mother of Delgado, said that Dr. Peluso only reached out after she sent a lengthy email to the RCSD Board Of Education detailing her complaints.
In the days immediately following the incident, RCSD said they partnered with RPD to have officers stationed outside the school for arrival and dismissal.
But the parents of Delgado and Rodrigez believe their daughters aren’t safe to return unless school resource officers come back full-time.
Armed school resource officers were cut from the district in 2020. While the incident has prompted discussions, there are no known plans for them to return.