Garfield High School students return to classes after a deadly shooting

Students walked past a memorial of signs and flowers on Tuesday morning on their way back to Garfield High School – for the first time since a student was killed in a parking lot shooting last Thursday.

Some parents said they want more security in the Central District as their students prepare to graduate.

More than an hour before classes started Tuesday morning, a quiet circle of people prayed outside the main entrance to Garfield High School. Their heads were bowed as gusts of wind shook the bouquets of flowers placed on the school steps. Prayers could be heard in the parking lot where a 17-year-old student was shot and killed on Thursday.

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“I’m heartbroken and overwhelmed right now,” said Leslie Williams Gibson, whose son, KeyShawn, is a senior at Garfield.

Williams Gibson said she talked to KeyShawn a bit that morning, mostly letting him know she was there for him if he needed anything.

“It’s not something he can really talk about,” she said. “He’s really a guy who’s trying to fend for himself and figure things out. But I think he’s studying now and doing something to take his mind off it.”

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KeyShawn will be 18 on Wednesday and will graduate the following Monday, so she’s focused on her final exams and graduation. But Williams Gibson said: “This should have been his last year and it wasn’t supposed to be like this. It wasn’t supposed to end like this for him or any of the students here.

There were numerous Seattle police officers hanging around the school Tuesday, as well as private security guards and members of community groups such as the YMCA.

Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell, who attended Garfield as a high school student, spoke at the event.

Just before 9 a.m., when classes were scheduled to resume, the crowd created a tunnel leading to the school doors for students to pass through. They applauded as teenagers walked by with backpacks, ready to return to class. For security reasons, all entrances to the school were closed and anyone entering was forced to enter through the main entrance.

RELATED: “It’s not just Garfield’s problem.” Students and families are calling for community safety measures following a school shooting

Williams Gibson said she appreciated the community turnout, but would have liked to see security present longer on a permanent basis – but right after the shooting.

“I would like to see more from the mayor to ensure the safety of our children not only at this school but in all schools,” she said. “We shouldn’t wake up every morning thinking, ‘Will our baby come home today?'”