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Employees who arrived early to work at United Drilling Inc., across the street from the school, heard no gunshots. They didn’t know about the commotion until around 8 a.m., when their parking lot filled with police and rescue vehicles.
At the Roswell mall, parents waited anxiously for their children. Some held hands, while others hugged each other.
Two prayer services were scheduled for Tuesday night at Roswell’s Calvary Baptist and First Baptist churches. Pastor Chris Mullennix said parents were worried and heartbroken, but there was a sense among many he spoke with that the community would be able to come together.
"This is something that strikes people to the core," he said in an interview. "We’re not talking about a flesh wound or just a mental wound, we’re talking about the very souls of people being shaken and rocked by something like this."
Mullennix said the prayer services will start the healing process.
"This is tragic but yet people in Roswell are tough, and people in Roswell will recover because we do have a sense of community, and I think that’s really important," he said.
In the hours after the shooting, social media sites were flooded with sentiments offering prayers for the community. Some Berrendo students posted on their Facebook sites that they were scared and didn’t want to return to school.
At a briefing later in the day, White House press secretary Jay Carney said the president was aware of the shooting.
"Our understanding is this is not an active shooter situation," he said. "The president’s team is monitoring the situation and is in close touch with our federal partners."
Roswell has a population of about 50,000. It is a center for ranching and farming, and is home to the New Mexico Military Institute, the only state-supported military college in the West. The city is perhaps best-known as the site of an alleged UFO crash in 1947.
Associated Press writers Jeri Clausing and Susan Montoya Bryan in Albuquerque contributed to this report.
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