Calabasas High School performing arts teacher Brian Ludmer was heading to a friend's wedding in Chicago this past Friday when he was shot in the leg by a gunman at Los Angeles International Airport, who also shot and killed a Transportation Security Administration agent.
On Tuesday, students at the school walked out of their classes and gathered at the quad in support of their teacher.
Calabasas senior Daniel Dabach remembers working with Ludmer during theater performances at school.
"Mr. Ludmer was that guy who always put in that extra time," Dabach said. "Always had the biggest heart. If there was ever something that needed to be done in the theater program, he would be there."
Ludmer also assisted a robotics course at the school. Junior Niv Kaufman took that course and remembers the moment he heard that Ludmer got shot.
"I was in so much shock. I had no idea what was going on," Kaufman said. "One of my friends called me up and told me that our teacher was one of the people who got shot at the LAX shooting; I was in awe. I had no idea — it came as a big surprise."
Ludmer is currently in good condition and recovering from the injury. Ludmer said Tuesday that he crawled to escape a gunman at LAX and used a sweatshirt as a tourniquet after his leg was shattered during last week's deadly shooting, according to the Associated Press.
"I didn't know what his intention was," Brian Ludmer said from his hospital bed, AP reports. "I only saw me and him. ... I was in total panic."
The shots erupted on a floor below him as he waited in a long, snaking line at a Terminal 3 security checkpoint.
"It was hard to know what was going on, where the shots were coming from," he said, AP reports.
Downstairs, Transportation Security Administration Officer Gerardo I. Hernandez was killed and the gunman was trying to shoot other TSA workers.
Ludmer recalled that he and other travelers pushed through metal detectors after hearing shots, scattering into the terminal and down ramps into bathrooms, shops and stores, even onto airplanes — anywhere to get away from the shooter, AP reports.
As Ludmer ran, a bullet hit him in the calf.
"My leg collapsed. It just instantly wouldn't support me," he said, according to AP. "Below the bullet wound my leg was just hanging."
He looked back and saw the gunman alone in the terminal hallway, according to AP. Ludmer collapsed against a wall and started crawling for his life on all fours. He found a shop, scrambled into a storage room and shut the door. He found a sweatshirt and tied it around his leg to reduce the bleeding.
Ludmer was terrified that he would pass out and bleed to death or the gunman would follow and finish him off.
Soon, however, he heard voices, dragged himself to the door and peeked out. A wave of relief swept over him when he realized police officers were clearing the terminal.
Two officers told him they would get him out safely — but not quite yet, because the gunman might still be on the loose. Ludmer said his leg was bleeding, and he needed a paramedic. The officers helped him into a wheelchair and dashed through the terminal.
"They got me out of there, even though it was at great risk to themselves," he said, according to AP. "They wheeled me out of there at a run."
They didn't know that airport police had actually shot and wounded the suspect, Paul Ciancia, within minutes of the attack, according to AP.
Ludmer needs one more surgery but doctors expect him to make a full recovery.
Ludmer said he was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time, according to AP, and called the gunman "sick," mentally ill and delusional.
"But whether you're sick or not, I don't see any lawful purpose for having access to those sorts of weapons," he said, AP reports. "I don't see the benefit that is outweighing the cost that it seems to be continually taking."