Pittsburgh Brashear High School senior Cody Muller says he remembers hearing "three or four loud pops" Wednesday as he left a back door of the building after classes ended for the day.
Initially, the 18-year-old from Overbrook did not connect the sounds with gunfire. But moments later, as he began to drive away in a car with his girlfriend, they came face to face with a horrifying scene.
Up ahead, a wounded 17-year-old student with a bloodied head was lying in a driveway surrounded by onlookers. Gym teacher Lynda Torcasio was next to him, using her sweatshirt to apply pressure to stem the bleeding near his right ear.
Minutes earlier, the victim and two other Brashear students had been struck by gunfire in Beechview near school property, sending the city's largest high school into lockdown and leaving students and others already outside the building to do whatever they could to help until police and paramedics arrived. All three are expected to survive, officials said Wednesday night.
"They were just asking him, 'What happened? Where do you live? What's your name?' He didn't respond. He was so confused. He wasn't aware of what happened to him."
Mr. Muller said he got closer. "I placed both my hands on his head to try to put more pressure on it," he said. "His whole side of his head was covered in blood. He had headphones hanging from his shirt that were all bloody, so I guess he had been listening to music.".
The victim repeated his ZIP code and gave his name -- Andrew -- and said he lived in the city.
Meanwhile, Mr. Muller said, the teacher "was telling people to go into the school to get help. People were on their phones calling 911."
About two or three minutes later police cars and ambulances rolled up, with officers telling people to leave, Mr. Muller said. He said people were scared but did not panic. He said he did not see the shooting, and since the suspect had already gone, he was less worried about the danger than about how the wounded teen was doing.
"The kid is in my prayers," Mr. Muller said afterward. "All three of them in fact."
Mr. Muller said he could never have imagined a scene like that at his school. He thought for a moment about what might have happened had it all unfolded five minutes later, when he was farther from the building.
"It could have been me."
Bill Schackner: email@example.com, 412-263-1977 or on Twitter @BschacknerPG.