SAN BERNARDINO ( – A teacher’s assistant who witnessed a murder-suicide in a San Bernardino school classroom earlier this week described the harrowing experience Thursday.

Jennifer Downing was in a North Park Elementary School classroom Monday morning when the estranged husband of her co-worker, Karen Smith, entered and opened fire on his wife. Downing said had she been armed, it would not have helped.

“There was absolutely no reaction time, because it was right away,” Downing said. “There wasn’t, ‘oh maybe I should grab something or get something.’ Had something (a gun) been locked up, it would not have mattered.”

FULL COVERAGE: San Bernardino School Shooting | Photos

San Bernardino police said Cedric Anderson, 53, entered his wife’s special-needs classroom and shot her dead. Two students standing behind her at the time were also struck by gunfire. Eight-year-old Jonathan Martinez was killed. Nine-year-old Nolan Brandy was critically hurt, but survived. Downing got a chance to visit Brandy in the hospital.

“It was a joyful experience,” Downing said. “He was a bit shy, which was to be expect, but a lot of happiness.”

For the first time since the shooting, staff returned to the campus Thursday.

“And we all walked the halls together as a tight unit, and I was OK,” Downing said.

Classes will resume at the school Monday.

A GoFundMe page has sent set up to assist with medical expenses for Brandy’s recovery. To donate, click here.

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