MSD STRONG, NEWS, OUR STORY — February 18, 2018 at 3:27 pm

Violent shooting occurs at MSD, killing 17 and wounding 17

by
Senior Hayden Korr tearfully remembers her classmates lost in the MSD shooting. Photo by Delaney Tarr

*Story is co-written by Nikhita Nookala and Christy Ma*

Valentine’s Day was a day of love, passion and friendships as Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School celebrated Feb. 14, 2018 with carnations and teddy bears. It was not until nearly the end of the school day at around 2:30 p.m. that the lives of students and faculty were taken in a violent rampage of hatred.

After already having a fire drill earlier that morning, MSD students were confused by the second fire alarm and walked out of their respective buildings as per protocol. However, none of them expected that it was an alarm triggered by the smoke in the 1200 building as a consequence of the gunshots.

As students in buildings outside of the 1200 building scrambled to any classroom available immediately after the fire alarm to hide, many unanswered questions lingered, including whether the code red lockdown was a drill meant to simulate a real situation or if this was reality.

“I was like, ‘This is a joke, right? Actually it might be culinary,’” senior Nate Kou said. “Then I heard something that sounded like a loud clap, and I said, ‘They must be trying really hard to do this drill.’ I was confused but at the same time there is such a sense of security in Douglas that there was no thought in my mind that we were in any kind of danger.”

The 3,300 students at MSD hid in closets, the corner of their classrooms and behind desks to fend for their lives, uncertain of if they would come out of school unharmed. Students and teachers stayed quiet, following protocols they had practiced for months, texting their families and watching local news for information.

Everyone’s worst fears were confirmed by about 3 p.m., when the Coral Springs Police Department tweeted that MSD was an active crime scene. Teachers in the room with students tried to calm any hysteria the best they could, reassuring them with thoughts of the police coming to help.

The suspect in this case is 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, a former student at MSD who was expelled last year for disciplinary problems. He had also attended Westglades Middle School. According to police and the Associated Press, Cruz began shooting on the first floor of the 1200 building, in rooms 1215, 1216, 1213 and 1214, and proceeded to the second floor, shooting into room 1234. Cruz then proceeded to the third floor, where he dropped his bag and weapon and then exited the building. However, teacher Scott Beigel and senior Joaquin Oliver were on the third floor as well, and fell victim to the shootings, suggesting a different occurrence than what is officially reported on the media. He then allegedly made his way to the Subway located in Walmart, and bought a drink. He also visited a McDonald’s. Cruz was apprehended by police 40 minutes later.

Students in the south wing of the school, including buildings 100 and 200, were luckily far from the action. Nothing was audible, especially to students hidden in storage closets. After some time, police came to these buildings to put classrooms together, where they were safe. The top floor of the 200 building was gathered in newspaper teacher Melissa Falkowski’s classroom, a total of 163 students and 6 teachers, including Michelle Daon and Eric Garner.

Freshman Alex Streisand hugs a fellow classmate following the traumatic events at MSD. Photo by Delaney Tarr

Some students in the north wing and in buildings 1200 and 1300 were evacuated from campus, heading towards Westglades Middle School. According to some reports, the shooter was among this crowd.

Police and SWAT came to each classroom individually to allow students to leave campus safely. Students in areas of the school close to the incident were asked to leave their belongings where they were. As of Feb. 17, students still have not been able to recover these items.

Some students were instructed to hold their hands up and run as fast as they could to the bike racks, which face Pine Island Road. Those that were allowed to keep their backpacks were told to leave them on the road, where they were checked by authorities and returned promptly. Students were overcome with relief and sadness to see their friends safely exiting the school, leading to tearfilled reunions on the side of the road. They hugged each other and cried into each others’ arms.

To the knowledge of this staff, MSD students were extremely compliant with authorities, following every instruction without question. Code red protocol was followed. Every rule that was practiced in the last few months was put into place and followed. Yet 17 people still lost their lives.

Some students were bussed to the Heron Bay Marriott hotel. Others walked along Holmberg Road until they saw their parents and were picked up. Students at Westglades Middle School were taken to Betty Stradling Park in Coral Springs or picked up by parents. At this point, students and teachers did not know who was okay and who was hurt. When they woke up the next morning, the news was updated and the fatalities were staggering, placing the Parkland shooting in national ranks. Fourteen students and three faculty members were killed. Others were still in the hospital fighting for their lives.

The victims of this tragedy are freshman Alyssa Alhadeff, geography teacher Scott Beigel, freshman Martin Duque Anguiano, senior Nicholas Dworet, Coach Aaron Feis, freshman Jaime Guttenberg, Coach Chris Hixon, freshman Cara Loughran, freshman Gina Montalto, senior Joaquin Oliver, senior Carmen Schentrup, freshman Alaina Petty, senior Meadow Pollack, junior Helena Ramsay, freshman Alex Schachter, freshman Peter Wang and freshman Luke Hoyer.

Their names will be remembered and their light at Stoneman Douglas will be missed.

Christy Ma

Christy is a senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and an editor for the Eagle Eye. She loves travel, food, puppies, and meeting new people. She is an officer of Mu Alpha Theta, English Honor Society, and Science National Honor Society and aspires to work in the medical field.

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39 Comments

  1. Nancy Metcalf

    I am a 75-year-old grandmother. It appears it will take our children to lead the country to finally take action on banning assault weapons and running effective background checks before allowing people to buy guns. Our “leaders” who should be doing these things aren’t. I applaud the plans for the marches and protests that are being planned by the students and I would like to help by sending money to help pay for the costs of these events. How do I contribute to this vitally important cause?

    • You can contribute to this movement by simply spreading the word to your community about the different events going on such as the march happening March 24 all around the country, and if you are able to, you can donate to multiple GoFundMe’s created for victims and certain scholarship opportunities in honor of the 17 victims and their families. Thank you for your continual support!

      • Even from as far as Kibbutz Ga’aton, Israel this Semi Retired USN Chief and Law Enforcment Officer is cheering you all on! A Baby Boomer that led the way in the 60/70s is handing the baton to you! I’m also holding your side and walking with you…even as a duel citizen I still pay Federal Taxes and still Vote Federal-Peace Out Eagles-can you hear me cheering you from the Northern Mountains of Israel 🇮🇱!

  2. Wow, how I admire all of you for such excellent, professional journalism in the face of intense heartbreaking emotion. We WILL change this horrible climate of gun violence. Love you, Mary Beth

  3. Pingback: Parents, students consider impact of Code Red drills – Oviedo Journalism

  4. Dear Students of Parkland,

    Please don’t forget about the gun manufacturers and weapons promoters. They are the ones who are funding the politicians who won’t talk to you. They are the ones making huge but hidden donations to the NRA, who pressures those politicians. They are the ones promoting gun hoarding as some sort of precious American Freedom. What about our Freedom to walk down the halls of our schools without fear? The gun manufacturers and sellers are making huge amounts of money at the expense of our safety. FOLLOW THE MONEY.

    Why don’t you get together with classmates and teachers and plan class projects to look into all aspects of the big business of guns and other weapons? Divide up the research between the whole class, write papers, make videos. Publish a book and/or articles and/or film documentaries at the end of the semester, and tell us on social media and also through the TV news media (your new friends) so older people like me can find it. I promise we will watch, we will read and hear what you say, and we will remember better if you help us.

    Please don’t drop out of school — don’t let this event rob you of your sacred Right to Education. Arrange to get course credit for your activism and research, and build your skills to pursue your activism. Don’t neglect math and science either — they are important to help find future solutions, and to understand the polls and surveys that will undoubtedly be generated to oppose you. I know it must be hard to focus right now. But your instincts to speak out are so good, and will help you heal better as well as informing the rest of us.

    Ask the reporters at CNN, MSNBC, PBS and others to help you learn how to follow the money. You have an unusual opportunity for the next couple weeks — albeit for a horrible reason. This news cycle will fade in a few weeks, not because the public doesn’t care but because there is so much scary news these days. But I believe you guys can keep bringing it back by shining a light on the people who profit from the deaths of your friends.

    There was a program on the business of weapons manufacturing in the last few months — I think it was on CNN. Seek those news stories out, get the news networks to rebroadcast them, post links to them. History is full of examples of profiteering off of wars and promotion of weapons — there is another source of topics for your history classes for the rest of the semester, that will help you get your message out. The same weapons manufacturers who are selling the assault rifles to mentally fragile people are selling to both sides in the wars around the world, just so they can rake in the profits. Yes, they are not just enabling school shootings, they are feeding our wars. President Eisenhower, a former general himself, warned us way back in the 1950s about the military-industrial complex, but we didn’t listen, and it has been a huge part of the American economy ever since then. I have seen it myself in the course of the work I did, and the amount of money I saw thrown into weapons was absolutely disgusting. The tragedy at Parkland is merely a by-product of the manufacturing and promotion of weapons on an unimaginable scale, but one that the profiteers see as an acceptable downside of their business. You know they are wrong, and so do all people with a shred of morality.

    You are *so* right to call it out as BS.

    If you don’t see change in the next month, get out the vote for the Florida primary (when is it? — tell all Floridians), and for the November election. Urge your friends to register to vote NOW, or as soon as they turn 18.

    I am so sorry for what happened to you, and admire you so much for channeling your grief and pain to promote positive change. Thank You. Not only are my heart and mind with you, but so are my phone calls to senators and congressmen, and so is my most sacred American Freedom, my Vote, in the primary and general elections. I will be marching with you on March 24th!

    • Thank you for the support, for keeping up with what we’re doing in Parkland, and what we hope to do in the country. We hope that more people, like you, will join us in this cause.

      • Barbara Harvey

        Thank you, Christy and all of your classmates who have gone through this horrible experience. As a baby boomer who was in high school during the Vietnam War protests, I just wanted to reach out to let you know that I am so proud of you for standing up to our politicians and demanding an end to this violence. There is power when people stand together and demand change. For everyone who criticizes you, please know that many others of us support you. You are the future of our nation and you deserve to be safe and live in a world without these weapons of mass destruction. Keep speaking truth to power!!

    • Liz – thank you for the organized and excellent information for the students. I too believe that these are the students that will lead the change that we all desperately want to see happen. If only we had heeded Eisenhower’s words!

  5. Pingback: 'It's Not Just A Story. It's Our Lives': Student Journalists In Parkland | iTruck NEWS

  6. Fabulous journalism! I am in awe of all of you! You all have made me cry so often with w your passion and professionalism. You were put in a situation that no one should ever be put it, but you are rising to the occasion. Please keep reporting, and please take care of yourself. That they are already trying to discredit you shows the lack of shame they possess as well as how dangerous y’all are. They are making a serious mistake, because they are only going to make you stronger.

    From a 54 year old artist/writer/activist and mom of a 19 year old who will now be a single issue voter against the NRA.

  7. I have also read locally about a movement to demilitarize schools in general, and stop military recruiting on campuses and junior ROTC. One person brought up the lead contamination in school shooting ranges because of the spent ammunition. Not to dilute your goals but this could be another area of action/interest, a tip as it were.

  8. James Vandever

    We’re all watching even from WAY up here in Seattle.
    A couple miles from my place, a grandmother was able to alert local authorities to an imminent school attack after she (very luckily) found her 17 year old grandson’s diary last week.
    It’s the kind of good news that doesn’t get ANY meaningful media attention, but it shows one way proper due diligence CAN help.
    It would have happened on February 15th.
    And it’s appearance on the local news helped to direct our attention towards Florida more acutely.
    You guys are leading the way!
    The classmates and teachers you lost are most certainly at peace watching from above the worldwide impact you are making in their names!!

  9. James Vandever

    Oh, and tell those politicians they should give up their N.R.A. money BEFORE you’ll accept going to “fortified” schools (that look like prisons,) with armed teachers, barbed wire, and metal detectors!
    And if they don’t, we’ll vote them ALL OUT!!

  10. Linda Smoley

    I taught journalism for 20 years and was blessed to have many bright, passionate, courageous, and articulate students just like you. You and your school mates inspire me and give me hope. Thank you for valuing the free press as a cornerstone of our democracy and for working to hold elected officials accountable!

  11. Rubio must go and Paul Ryan. You children will lead us to the light. It is sad you children have this burden to bare but we thank you here in GA.

  12. As a grandmother of a high school senior I feel a strong link to the students at Stoneman Douglas High School. You give me great hope for the future of our country. With citizens like you we can solve all of the problems facing this country. I will support you with my vote in November and I know many parents and grandparents will do the same. So sorry for your loss and all you have had to endure. Remember that what you are doing now will save many lives in the future. Let that thought help you stay strong as you work toward a solution to this major problem.

  13. I have been so inspired by the reaction and passion demonstrated by the MSD students after this horrific event. Rather than cower, it appears you have all united with one incredible, articulate voice to make meaningful change – change that WILL impact US history. Anyone who fears for the state of American education and/or our youth, need only look to your student body to know that our future is in great hands…I see many future political leaders in the students speaking out before the cameras, and wish you all Godspeed as you continue to heal, motivate and generate greatness, not just on your campus, but in the world.

  14. In the 60’s I was in high school many adults brushed us off as kids but they found out we were kids with power . We shut down schools we protested and our numbers grew and we were heard a war ended (95% of the boys in my sisters class died in VietNam ) The war came to an end and other great changes were made. You are the leaders of tomorrow we trust you with that jobs what happened is painful and those in Public Office just don’t get it and they never will. President Kennedy said ” Ask not what your country can do for you ,but ask what you can do for your Country”. Not only have I grew old in the service of my country I have become have blind as well. It is now in your hands . You can make a difference and don’t let these so called leader try to tell you you can’t . Remind them many of you will vote in the next election. Never let them forget it. The wind of change is in the air and let the NRA know about it and those so called political leaders that refuse to see the bodies and blood in the streets as long as they can pocket NRA money.

  15. My husband and I have been so incredibly impressed by the students of your school who are showing real integrity and leadership after this terrible tragedy. I have never been prouder of our youth than when I see your peers protesting and read your excellent reporting. You give us all great hope for the future. You have our unending support. We stand with you in solidarity as parents with young children and proud US citizens who are absolutely aghast that this wonderful country has become overrun with guns and the greed of the NRA. At the end of the day, the “debates” are not about freedom. They are about money.

    All my prayers and love to you all. And again, thank you for your courage and leadership. You all could teach our politicians much about true leadership and integrity. May you know much peace and light in the years ahead.

  16. I am in awe of the wisdom and dedication to the cause of greater gun safety that is demonstrated by the MSD students. I totally support your goals. One thing that concerns me is that the students who were wounded by the shooter are seldom mentioned. The deaths are tragic, but those who were attacked but survived should not be ignored. I would like to see reports of their conditions; hopefully they will all survive. Stay the course. There are more of us who agree with your goals than those who do not. I have already notified my two senators and my representative that I will not vote for any candidate who accepts money from the NRA. I think common sense gun and magazine size regulation is more important than loyalty to any party.

  17. Margaret Tana

    I was absolutely heartbroken when I learned of the tragedy at your school. Every time there has been a mass shooting, I would hope that maybe this time something will be done for gun control and every time I have been disappointed. When I saw the students at MSD protest, I was hopeful. After seeing all that has unfolded, I am in awe of you. You have started a movement that no one has been able to do in the past. I am convinced that you will persevere and win the battle against combat style weapons. You have even caused corporations to disassociate themselves with the NRA and Republicans fear you. You rightfully call yourselves children and kids, but I see giants of change. You stand up to politicians and are able to communicate your message most effectively, and you will be voting soon. Please, please don’t quit. God bless you.

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  19. Christine Kaldahl

    I applaud your school district for allowing your staff to report on the events. Keep up the solid reporting. – a journalism teacher in Omaha, Neb.

  20. Kristen DiGiorgio

    As a high school journalism adviser, I commend you and your staff for using the best weapon you have to fight for your right to safety: Your First Amendment. Unfortunately this tragedy is what has produced some incredible journalistic work, but it is obvious your staff was doing that before this. Know that you have a whole nation of support behind you guys, and change is coming because of your voices. Keep on PRESSING.

  21. I’m fifteen years old and I can’t even try to imagine what it must feel like to go back to school today after what happened. My school is fighting for you and a ton of us will be at the march on the 24th. You guys are amazing!

    Love from NJ 🙂

  22. Hi,

    I am a senior writer for the Urban Legend newspaper at the Urban School of San Francisco. We are interested in posting this article on our journalism website for our student body to read. We would give all due credit to the writers. Would that be okay? Please email me with your response. I am sorry for your loss.

    • Hi Ana, you can post this article on your journalism website with credit to the writers and to the photographers if you use the pictures as well.

  23. Pingback: Celebration and grief: Parkland journalists embody importance of student voices during Scholastic Journalism Week | jeasprc.org

  24. You are the crest of the wave of resistance against the corporate culture that everyday values money over every life on this planet. GO GO GO, you are the ignition. Us Boomers stopped the Vietnam War. I faced cops with riot gear and snipers on the roof, they tried to get us to leave- nobody moved. In fact, the flood of children/young adults kept swelling in the streets, in the universities, everywhere. We scared them so much they shut down all the universities. Our classmates were coming home in boxes or maimed for life. They made us endure the gruesome lottery in 1960 where birthdate numbers were pulled out of a jar on national TV. We all sat in our dorms listening for the birthdates of our brothers, sons, husbands and lovers to see who would be marked to die. In between drawings, they stopped for commercials for Gillette shaving products because every young man between the ages of 17 and 35 were glued to the TV. That is the darkness you fight against now. Don’t stop, I will be marching in my hometown on March 24. Your clear voices, your moral cause, the explosion you have detonated can stop the madness of the NRA money bribed congress that helps weapons of war to be sold to angry men to shoot children in our schools like fish in a barrel for profit is so beyond disgusting you have the power to shame them into action or motivate the adults to vote them out. GO FOR IT. Your paper is powerful!

  25. Error, it was in 1969, that awful lottery.

  26. Annika Bjornson

    Hello,

    I am an editor-in-chief of The Panther at Seattle Preparatory School and we are doing a social justice issue next month with a feature focus on gun violence. We as a journalism staff hope that this will raise awareness and create a lot of discussion in our community. Would you be willing to let us use quotes from this article? Also, would you or anyone you know from your school or your staff be willing to do an interview with someone from our staff? Please feel free to get in contact with me and we can work out something together. Our school has been praying for all of you and will continue to fight for this cause,

    Annika

    • Christy Ma

      Hi Annika,
      You can use quotes from this article as long as you attribute the quote to its source. I could do an interview with someone from your staff, and I’m sure other staffers from the Eagle Eye would be interested as well.

      • Annika Bjornson

        Hello,

        Thank you so much for your response! We really appreciate your willingness to help us out. I would like to connect you with the student who will be writing the article we have in mind for this topic. Can you email me and I can send along her email address?

        Thank you,
        Annika

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