‘A War Zone:’ 29 Years Later, Police Officer Remembers the Cleveland School Shooting

STOCKTON -- Surviving a school shooting leaves a scar that never fully heals, and for many in law enforcement they have to bear that scar as well.

D.T. Martin still sees the tragic scene as if it were yesterday.

"It just went from a very calm, normal day to just like a war zone," Martin told FOX40 Sunday.

Martin was a motorcycle officer for the Stockton Police Department when calls started to come in about a shooting at Cleveland Elementary School on Jan. 17, 1989.

"When we got here, we actually heard the last shot," Martin said. "And someone actually stuck their head out, told us that kids were being shot, there was a shooter on the campus and just kind of gave us a direction. As we're doing so, we are running past kids who had been shot."

Five children died that day and 30 more were wounded.

For Martin, who has spent the last 28 years with the Sacramento Police Department, looking through the newspaper from the following day in 1989 and seeing his picture from the scene instantly takes him back.

"This is probably one of the hardest calls I’ve been on, especially when you are talking about kids," he said. "With so many people killed, so many people hurt, the devastation that occurred to the families."

Now Martin teaches classes at McClatchy High School in Sacramento and works as a first responder. As someone who could find himself in the line of fire, he's constantly on high alert.

"I always say that if you stay ready you don’t have to get ready. We are always looking for that person that is looking to see what everybody else is doing," Martin said. "We live in that condition. So for me, even at school and after 30 plus years, that’s normal for me. You always want to be ready if something does occur."

Martin said what happened Wednesday in Florida brought him back to Cleveland Elementary School, a day he will never forget and wishes others never would have had to experience.

Martin hopes schools continue to practice drills and educate students on why they are important while also continuing to work on the legislature that could keep these types of shootings from becoming a new normal.