Student “prayed through fear” during Townville school shooting

Student talks about shooting at Townville Elementary.

TOWNVILLE, SC (WSPA) – As more stories continue to come out about the heroism of teachers and first responders, we also are hearing from the littlest voices.

Townville Elementary students were having a normal day on a random Wednesday in September until the unthinkable happened.

9 year old Lily Thrift was in 4th grade science class.

“We were in the middle of science and she just handed out our tornado sheets because we were going to go on the computer and do some research,” Lily explained.

Lily prefers reading over science, but said this was a fun assignment. It’s one she would not complete, Wednesday.

“Our principal came over the announcements and said “we are on lock down” and we all went to the corner beside our computers and we hunkered down as low as we could get,” Lily said.

An active shooter is a situation Lily and her classmates trained for just a few days before, but this time she knew it was real.

“We all just started to cry,” said Lily about she and her classmates.

Lily described hearing the voices of policemen talking to each other. One peaked into her classroom. We now know this was first responders clearing the classrooms one at a time.

Lily said she grabbed the hand of a friend, scared.

“What do you do when you are scared,” asked 7 News Reporter, Addie Hampton.

“Pray,” said Lily.

“What did you pray for yesterday,” asked Hampton.

“I prayed that everyone would be okay,” she said.

Lily was one of hundreds of students evacuated from their classrooms and put on buses to Oakdale Church a few miles down the road.

That’s where she finally found her mother, Tara Thrift.

“I give my mom my little baby and I said I’m going to get Lily. She said you won’t be able to get through. I said, “I don’t care. I will get there,” said Thrift.

Together, Tara and Lily worked to comfort the youngest of students. Tara called their parents, ensuring their child was okay.

“Some of the kids didn’t even know their phone numbers. They were that young. They were babies and their innocence was just ripped from them,” said Thrift.

The Thrifts are sticking close by each other, as so many families are in this close-knit community. They wait for news of 6 year old Jacob Hall, who they’ve known all his life and who is now fighting for his own.

Lily also works to process what happened.

“We were talking about how I’m not allowed to watch rated R movies and how it just kind of came to life,” said Lily.

Mostly, this family represents so many expressing gratitude for all the hometown heroes who stepped up to protect.

“I wanna thank them all,” said Lily.

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