`They threw grenades...They didn't care who they shot...they just kept shooting'

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THE STUDENT'S voice trembled with shock as, still shaking, she recalled the moment she saw the people with the guns.

"We didn't think it was real and then we saw blood," said the teenager, who gave her name only as Janine. "They were shooting people and throwing grenades and stuff... Me and my friends got to my car and drove off... We saw three people get shot. They were just shooting. Then something blew up." She added: "They didn't care who they shot. They were just shooting."

Speaking after she fled from Columbine High School in the Denver suburb of Littleton, the teenager was just one of many students and staff who saw the gunmen, dressed in black trenchcoats and masks, as they walked into the school and began firing at around 11.30am local time.

Another of the school's 1,800 students, Bob Sapin, had hidden in the undergrowth the moment he heard the first shots. "I hid behind the school in the bushes and I saw them," he said. "When they started walking down the hallway, I ran and I ran and I hid in the bushes." Most people ran as far as they could the moment they heard the gunshots."We heard the gunshots and we were running," said Kaley Boyle, a junior at the school.

Others had tried to hide wherever they could find a place they thought was safe. One woman tried to help the people she had seen with gun-shot wounds. "I went out the side door," said the woman, who did not give her name. "I just got hold of 911 and told them what their wounds were. That was when we got into the bathroom and we just hid there and we did not move. We could hear them shooting the place up. We could overhear them talking and moving things around and blowing the heck out of the place." Other students at the school in the middle-class suburb hid elsewhere. A police spokesman said he believed some had hidden in the room used for choir practice. Some of those hiding were able to use mobile phones to speak to friends and family as events unfolded around them.

Many of those who had been present when the shooting took place were either too shocked or stunned to speak. In the moments after the sound of gunshots and explosions broke out, rumours rapidly circulated. Correspondents reporting live from the scene, repeatedly asked witnesses only to talk of what they had seen themselves.

As they poured from the building, the students and staff assembled in Clement Park, next to the school. Students stood shaking and crying as parents wandered about, looking for their children. Among those gathered in the park, Jonathan Ladd, a student, said he was leaving a technology laboratory when he saw students running and heard shots ricocheting off lockers. Like the others, he had immediately turned and run.

"I was hiding behind the bushes. I saw the men with the weapons inside the school. They were stalking around, I assume looking for people to kill. They were all in black with what looked like sub-machine-guns," another student, also not identified, told KUSA-TV.