Kenny Hardin departed his home around 9 a.m. for Allderdice High School (Pittsburgh), where his football team was scheduled to play in the championship game.
Not long later, he got a text from his mother explaining that there had been a shooting nearby their home, Penn Live reported.
The Hardin’s house is “not more than 50 feet” away from the Tree of Life Synagogue in Squirrel Hill, according to Penn Live, where 11 people were killed by a shooter on Saturday.
The Hardin family heard what sounded like automatic gunfire and gathered in the basement.
“There were several police cars — four or five — in the street with officers hiding behind them and their guns drawn toward Tree of Life,” Kim Hardin, Kenny’s mother, said to Penn Live.
They heard a pounding on their back door.
A SWAT team entered the home and said they needed to use the upstairs. They told Kenny’s father, Ken, to move furniture to the closet in the master bedroom.
“The windows directly face the synagogue, and they used the furniture to mount their sniper rifles,” Kim said to Penn Live.
Over the next hour, Kenny didn’t hear from his family. He listened from a police scanner, according to Penn Live.
The family is still trying to comprehend the events of the day and the emotional toll it will take as they witnessed the manhunt first-hand. Nicholas, who is 10 years old and the youngest son in the family, believes he saw an officer get shot, according to Penn Live. The Hardins have friends who attend the synagogue.
The victims had yet to be named at the time the Penn Live story was published — you can find their names here — but Kim was certain the impact would be felt.
“The degree of separation won’t be more than one or two people,” she said. “Everybody is going to know somebody that was affected by this.”