Dublin-born actress Victoria Smurfit said a gunman targeting her daughters’ school in recent days reaffirmed her decision to move her family from the US.
Victoria and her children – daughters, Evie (14) and Ridley (11), and son, Flynn (10) – will relocate to England shortly.
The ‘Once Upon a Time’ star told RTÉ that there were “loads of reasons” for the move, such as to be closer to her family, but her children’s recent scare at school was the last straw.
“Having a gunman outside your kids’ school was just the icing on the cake really,” she said.
Victoria said receiving a text from her daughter while she was in a lockdown at her school was “the most helpless moment ever”.
“I was about two hours north of LA about to shoot a short film when I got a text from Evie saying ‘We’re in lock-down, please don’t call me’. I just said ‘is it real?’
She said yes and all I could do in the most helpless moment ever was say ‘hide baby, hide’.
“For an hour I didn’t know what on earth was happening and both girls were in the school. You can’t contact them, you can’t call the school.”
Victoria said the would-be shooter, a former student, was arrested by police.
She said as a mother in that situation she felt “a terrible helplessness”, similar to when she learned about Evie’s degenerative eye disease diagnosis, adding: “I don’t wish it on anybody.”
She plans to keep her children home from school today as they are still in fear.
“Then there’s the fallout. They’re scared. They’re actually not going to go into school today. I’m going to let them work from home. I thought I’d give them a day at home to calm them down and then they can crack on, as we do.”
She described the regular lockdown drills her children must participate in.
“Part of living at home is going to school and knowing it’s going to be wet and you’re going to play rugby and you’re going to get muddy. Part of it here is they learn how to do these shooter drills.
“Four times a year they lock down the school and they all hide under their desk and they find a spot in their room to hide. That’s just something they do because it’s real here, whether you like it or not, just like the earthquake drills are real because earthquakes happen.”
Victoria said the availability of guns in the US is “crazy”.
“People – dads and mums – have guns in the garages because those are the acceptable rules here. It’s just crazy. Culturally, I can’t get my head around it at all.”
Victoria is part of one of the richest families in Ireland. She rose to fame playing Orla O’Connell in the BBC television series ‘Ballykissangel’ from 1998–99.
More recently she starred as Cruella de Vil on ABC’s ‘Once Upon a Time’. She is currently filming for her role as Nikki in ‘Homecoming’.
In 2012, Victoria and her husband, advertising executive Douglas Baxter, moved their family to Santa Monica, California. She and her husband since filed for divorce.