Matt Milby was no stranger to the Dixon community and seniors who spoke with Local 4 News on Thursday say at one point, he was even a friend. But now as Seniors gather to pick up where they left off at graduation practice, they say nothing feels the same.
Senior Savannah Steder says she was remembering her friend and former classmate during a moment of silence when she heard the gunshots Wednesday morning.
“I heard boom boom boom boom boom out in the hallway,” said Steder.
Some students say the senior class was having a moment of silence for two classmates who passed away during the school year.
Seniors at Dixon High School filed back into the building Thursday afternoon, heading back to graduation practice to pick up where they left off. But Senior Lucas Lauer says there’s a sense of fear and uncertainty.
“Everybody’s super nervous,” said Lauer. “I mean it’s not like you can’t really be with how fast we had to run out of the school.”
Lauer says it’s been an emotional rollercoaster.
“A lot of emotions went through my head, kind of hard to sleep at night and just kept hearing those gun shots going off,” said Lauer.
Lauer says he was friends with Milby until he was expelled senior year. He says he was quiet, kind, and while he says he didn’t have a good home life, he never expected this.
“He did a lot of stupid things in class but that was just the kind of person he was,” said Lauer. “He was always the class clown. Never thought something like this would happen.”
But Lauer was also thinking of the family of Officer Mark Dallas on Thursday. Lauer says the Dixon Police Officer is a hero, and he’s even become friends with his son at the high school.
“Actually his son, who is in our grade, was actually one of my good friends this year,” said Lauer.
And while Lauer is still trying to make sense of everything, Senior Savannah Steder says she’s not so shocked.
Steder says she, too, used to be friends with Milby. She says she grew up with him, but says he recently got involved with drugs, and saying something “wasn’t right” with Milby mentally.
“Honestly it didn’t surprise me,” said Steder. “He started getting on all this other stuff and I don’t know, I think he really did it to himself.”
Steder noticed Milby lingering in the hallway just moments before he opened fire. She says he was wearing a hat and was acting “creepy” outside the gym. But Steder says she and fellow students shrugged it off at first.
“We were like oh why is Matt here?”
But moments later, Steder says shots rang out, and teachers were telling students to run.
On Thursday, both students had mixed emotions walking back into Dixon High School.
“I’m really glad to graduate after all that,” said Steder. “I’m glad we made it through all that and we’re stronger than ever now.”
And they both agree, this will never be the same school they walked into Wednesday morning.
“It has been a crazy year and it’s definitely one that I’m never going to forget, ever.”
Graduation is still scheduled for this Sunday. Some seniors tell Local 4 News they are ready to walk across the graduation stage, and are looking forward to a fresh start.