Tuesday's abduction and assault on a 17-year-old Gunn High School student created a mood of uncertainty and fear on campus, students said.
"I was completely shocked and just really shaken," junior Libby Craig said. She said she saw another student seeking help from a counselor.
Few felt such an attack was even possible in Palo Alto, she said.
"A lot of people just didn't think it could happen here. We all hear about it happening elsewhere but we didn't think it could happen here, especially on the street our school is on," she said.
Initial police reports that the victim was attacked shortly after school when walking in the 500 block of Arastradero Road, near El Camino Real -- not when locking her bike in a visually concealed area behind a building. The sidewalk report especially disturbed students, they said.
"I was shocked that something like that could happen at 3 p.m. on a pretty busy street after school in the daytime," senior Victoria VanDuyne said.
"I was shocked that it happened at 3 o'clock, when the roads are filled with people," senior Dane Price agreed.
It no longer feels safe to walk home from school, students said.
"I actually walk at night on that street, and I definitely won't be doing that any more," VanDuyne said.
"I walk home from school so I'm really scared. I'm actually trying to get a ride home today," Craig said.
Female students in particular feel frightened, she said.
"This is like a girl's worst nightmare," she said.
"I've seen a few girls that were scared about what happened," freshman Matt Hurst said.
But teachers have sought to quell fears, encouraging students to walk in groups and leave cell phones turned on, he said.
Three police officers were assigned to the Gunn campus Wednesday to help restore a sense of safety and security, police Sgt. Sandra Brown said.