Students at Italy High School returned to classes on Tuesday one day after a shooting at the campus.
A 15-year-old girl was shot multiple times in the cafeteria on Monday by her 16-year-old ex-boyfriend. He is in police custody and charged with two counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.
Captain Charles Hyles is a Dallas firefighter who is being credited with helping save the life of 15-year-old Noelle Jones. He says when he heard about the shooting at his kids’ school, he did not hesitate.
“I had no idea where the shooter was, if they had the shooter or what was going on,” Hyles recalled. “I ran thru the front door. I was able to see a young person on the ground with staff around her and a police officer. I identified that I was a Dallas firefighter. I was there to help.”
The firefighter says Noelle was wearing fatigues as a cadet with the school's civil air patrol program.
"She was saying, please don't let her die. We told her we would not let her die,” Hyles said. “I felt a special bond with her. When she made me promise she wasn't going to die, I needed to follow up on my promise that I would see her at the hospital."
When Hyles did visit Noelle at the hospital Monday afternoon, he says he tried his best to not cry.
“Big burly firemen aren't supposed to cry,” he said. “She said, ‘You didn't let me die.’ I said, ‘No, baby. God didn't let you die. He used me as a small piece of the puzzle to get you from point A to point B.’"
The shooting in Italy has been traumatic for the close-knit community. ATF agents and canines conducted a thorough sweep of Italy High School before students and staff arrived on Tuesday as an added precaution. There was also extra security on campus along with grief counselors for students.
Noelle is being treated at Parkland Hospital in Dallas and is expected to survive. Italy ISD Superintendent Leo Joffre visited her Monday night and said she was in good spirits, even telling jokes.
"She is sending a message of recovery and strength that we're going to build off of,” he said. “The young lady was strong enough to read a poem to me."
Students say the shooter and victim had been in a relationship but recently broke up. Students have said the 16-year-old shooter had previous problems at school. School officials declined to comment on his disciplinary record, citing student privacy.
A witness said the shooter also aimed at another boy and missed. The sheriff would not address that, but the suspect is charged with two counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.
The teen suspect will make his first court hearing appearance on Wednesday morning.