Parents wary after Manassas-area shooting

Donna Debois was apprehensive about dropping off her 7-year-old daughter, Ashley Debois, at Nokesville Elementary School Thursday morning.

“It breaks my heart every time I leave her there,” she said. “I’m scared for me. I’m scared for my girls,” said the 34-year-old mother.

The thought of keeping her daughter at home from school crossed her mind. However, she decided it would be best for Ashley to maintain her regular schoolday schedule.

Many parents of local schoolchildren faced the same feelings Thursday, the morning after a Gaithersburg, Md., man was gunned down by a sniper at a gas station on Va. 234, outside Manassas.

The shooting was the ninth sniper shooting in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area this month, seven of which have been fatal.

“It would be worse if we changed her schedule now,” Debois said. “She knows what’s going on — she’s not stupid.”

When Ashley showed any concerns about the sniper attacks, Debois reassured her — “You’ll be OK. The school’s doing everything it can.”

Overall, daily activities are being conducted with caution in the Debois family.

“I don’t think I’ve changed my way of life too much. I think I’m more cautious when I’m out and about,” she said.

Daily activities such as doctor appointments remained on schedule for Beth Johnson, 42, and her 9-year-old son, David.

After returning from his appointment, David said he was not nervous on his way into Sudley Elementary School in Manassas.

“The school seems to do a very good job in making the parents feel comfortable,” Beth Johnson said.

Jannie Jones, 68, who lives on Quail Run Drive, kept the toddlers she was babysitting indoors Thursday.

“Yesterday I let them play just right here,” she said pointing to the front porch area.

Her 11-year-old granddaughter, Shyla Hicks, and 10-year-old grandson, Shaheem Hicks, attend Sinclair Elementary School in Manassas, not far from where Wednesday’s sniper attack took place.

When Hicks and her grandchildren heard the news, she said they questioned why there were helicopters hovering in the sky.

“I heard on the news … somebody got shot on the [Va.] 234, but I couldn’t explain why the helicopters were flying because I didn’t know where it was,” she said. “I like to let them know what’s going on.”

The Hicks were afraid to walk so a friend drove them to school Thursday, she said. She had considered keeping them home, but both children look forward to going to school, she said.

“I don’t think we can keep them out of school,” she said. “I’d rather be with them if anything happens than for them to be walking alone.”

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