NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — The day of the Covenant School shooting, not every person trying to protect children ran towards the school. In fact, Lilly Hearn ran home.
“I pulled my car over, left all the doors open, car still on, putting my flashers on and said, ‘I live right there. Go inside, go inside here,'” Hearn remembered.
Hearn lives steps from The Covenant School and happened to be just outside her home when the first shots were fired into the school’s doors. At that same time, a kindergarten class was outside for recess and raced down a hill with their teacher in search of safety.
“They were frazzled or injured or, you know, every degree of emotion,” she said.
At first, Hearn didn’t know what was happening; she saw the heavy law enforcement presence and streets being blocked off and guessed maybe the president was in town.
“A gentleman was walking his dog and I asked him if he knew what was going on, and he said, ‘Do you really want to know?’ I said, ‘Yes.’ He said, ‘There’s an active shooting,'” Hearn said.
Minutes later, she saw the group of more than 20 kindergartners racing her way with cuts and bruises from going through a wooded area. The mom of three said she did what any mom would do in that moment and ushered the kids and their teacher into her home.
“And then we kind of divided into two groups. We put on ‘Zootopia’ and ‘Sonic the Hedgehog’ in this room and then in another room over there. Turned the volume all the way up so they couldn’t hear anything outside,” she said.
Hearn said most of the day was a blur, but estimates the kids were in her home for about an hour. She hopes during that time, she was able to give the students memories of that day that weren’t all horrific.
“The stories related to their parents was, ‘We went to this lady’s house across the street and watched movies and had snacks and band aids, and she had a hairless cat,'” she said.
This week, those same kids visited Hearn’s home again to thank her for what she did – a kind and appreciated but surprising gesture, she said.
“I don’t think I did anything kind of extraordinary. It was just instinctual. I have three kids. I’ve worked in several schools. So it’s kind of just….kids are in danger. I’m here. I’m going to use what I have in whatever way I can to help and I would hope that somebody would do the same for my children,” she said.
Hearn said now she feels a special bond with all those kids and those kids always have a place in her home.