Local athlete saved by football meeting

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Brandon Barden said Monday that he is thankful he's a football player. The Lincoln County graduate - an early enrollee at Virginia Tech this winter - was attending an early team meeting and avoided the shooting rampage that happened near his dorm.

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Virginia Tech freshman, Ryan Fowler, second from right, hugs his dad, Tim, of Mt. Airy, Md., as his mother, MaryEllen  hugs another student near Norris Hall, the site of a shooting on the campus of Virginia Tech  in Blacksburg, Va., Monday, April 16, 2007. Tim and MaryEllen drove down from Maryland to pick up their son after they heard of the shootings. A gunman massacred 32 people at Virginia Tech in the deadliest shooting rampage in modern U.S. history Monday, cutting down his victims in two attacks two hours and a half-mile apart before the university could figure out what was going on and get the warning out to students.  Associated Press
Associated Press
Virginia Tech freshman, Ryan Fowler, second from right, hugs his dad, Tim, of Mt. Airy, Md., as his mother, MaryEllen hugs another student near Norris Hall, the site of a shooting on the campus of Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Va., Monday, April 16, 2007. Tim and MaryEllen drove down from Maryland to pick up their son after they heard of the shootings. A gunman massacred 32 people at Virginia Tech in the deadliest shooting rampage in modern U.S. history Monday, cutting down his victims in two attacks two hours and a half-mile apart before the university could figure out what was going on and get the warning out to students.

"It's really all hard to believe," Mr. Barden said in a telephone interview with The Chronicle. "I remember Columbine growing up, and now this. It's going to take a while for all of this to settle in."

Mr. Barden left his Ambler Johnston East dormitory Monday morning at 6:45 for a Virginia Tech football team meeting.

"We had a position group meeting at 7 with all the other receivers," Mr. Barden said.

"So I wasn't around at 7:15 or 7:30 or so when they said the first shooting all happened. It's a good thing I had to get up and go to that. Thank goodness I had that meeting. I didn't want to be up and around when all of that was happening."

Mr. Barden said the first of the two shootings of the day happened about 50 yards from his dormitory room.

"All of that stuff happened at Ambler Johnston West," Mr. Barden said. "I'm on Ambler Johnston East. They are separated, but the two sides are connected. It would probably take me about 30 seconds to get over there from where I stay.

"That's the scary part. I go up that elevator to that part of the Ambler Johnston area all the time. I've got friends that all live over there."

Mr. Barden said he didn't know anyone among those killed or injured. He did not believe any of his Virginia Tech teammates were among those injured.

He went from his team meeting to study hall, then to his first class of the day at 9 a.m. He took a test in geology and then returned to his dormitory.

Mr. Barden said he's received about 30 to 40 calls to his cell phone and about 40 to 50 text messages from family and friends making sure he's all right.

The Lincoln County graduate enrolled early at Virginia Tech after leading the Red Devils to the state championships in December.

Best friend and current Lincoln County senior Alex Bradford was the first to call.

"Alex called me, and when he did it was hard getting a signal out because everyone on campus was using their cell phones," he said.

"I called him back in about 10 minutes, and he was telling me everything that was going on at about the same time I was finding it out on my own."

Classes were cancelled Monday and today at the school.

"We're all just hanging out right now playing video games," he said. "This was just a huge event. We are all really just trying to figure out what happened by watching CNN and the news right now."

Reach Jeff Sentell at 706-823-3425 or jeff.sentell@augustachronicle.com.

Comments (9) Add comment
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shaftmaster
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shaftmaster 04/17/07 - 12:41 pm
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Oh, let's make sure that

Oh, let's make sure that everybody knows 'the athlete' is ok!

And to drive this home. let's repeat this on talk radio, news, etc.

Incredible!

kipper
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kipper 04/17/07 - 12:45 pm
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There are no words to explain

There are no words to explain the sadness I feel for the Clark family and the students and faculty of Virginia Tech. As a parent of a student at another major University I cannot help but feel the pain that all of you are suffering. I will continue praying for not only the students and faculty of this tragedy, but for all of our students and faculties throughout this country. God bless all of you!

Mattie
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Mattie 04/17/07 - 01:07 pm
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Sounds to me like somebody is

Sounds to me like somebody is jealous that he was not an athlete. We would be concerned if he was a geek too.

Kenya_Beard
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Kenya_Beard 04/17/07 - 02:24 pm
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He was one of only a few that

He was one of only a few that would even give an interview. The news listed two other college students from the CSRA and tried to get an interview with both. Only one was willing to talk and the other was too upset. Also the shooting happened in the same dorm as this guy not far from the Clark kid. I agree with the way the news is handling this, they are focusing more on the Clark family but also finding out what they can from a first hand witness who happens to be an athlete. If shaftmaster is so upset with the radio and media keeping us informed he can go protest with the others in front of the radio station.

jerryyoung
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jerryyoung 04/17/07 - 05:14 pm
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I live in Bridgeton, New

I live in Bridgeton, New Jersey. The immediate past mayor of this town has a son that attends Virginia Tech. My local paper ran a story about him being safe after the shootings. To report on someone with local connections is only natural.

papajoe
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papajoe 04/17/07 - 06:27 pm
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go to hell shaftmaster. maybe

go to hell shaftmaster. maybe when it is YOUR kid we will not publish his name in the paper unless he or she gets killed. after all you are so [filtered word] that Brandon Barden is alive. It is sad that you wanted him not to survive to make the newspaper letting all that knows him that he is ok. Shaftmaster you should be thankful he is OK you spoiled BRATT.

papajoe
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papajoe 04/17/07 - 06:33 pm
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Shaftmaster you also owe the

Shaftmaster you also owe the Barden family an apoligy as well as the city of Lincolnton for your Heartless and Cold comments.

Brittanyg820
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Brittanyg820 04/17/07 - 08:29 pm
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okay so I went to middle

okay so I went to middle school with Brandon. Brandon's mom was my high school vice principal. I haven't really gotten the chance to talk to him in a long while because of his moving to Tech. For "shaftmaster" to post anything sarcastically regarding someone who just missed a huge massacre is ridiculous.
"shaftmaster", you are a cold-hearted human being. You should be ashamed of yourself for posting a comment like the one above. Instead of sarcasm, how about being glad that a life was spared. What a jerk.

I pray for all the families who lost someone in this tragedy. Ryan Clark's family lives down the street from me. God be with everyone.

shaftmaster
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shaftmaster 04/17/07 - 10:59 pm
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Calm down people! My comment

Calm down people! My comment was in reference to the fact that there could've been more students from this area that were not athletes - that could've been spared; but the media chooses to highlight this one only. Are there no other students from this area that go to that University? Again, the comment made was a criticism about the media - nothing else. BTW, I am happy that he survived - I never said otherwise.

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