Daniel Medeiros was in a fourth-period English class, feeling worn down by a lesson on sonnets when the fireplace alarm went off. “Oh yeah,” he thought to himself. “Candy.”
Moments earlier, Haeseung Lee had left his psychology class to go to the toilet when he heard a succession of bangs. What he is aware of about firearms he realized from video video games. However these sounded so much like gunshots. He bolted for a classroom.
It was the start of six minutes of gunfire that will obliterate what was purported to be a day like every other at Marjory Stoneman Douglas Excessive Faculty in Parkland, Fla. A troubled ex-student, Nikolas Cruz, had ridden to campus in an Uber with a legally bought AR-15 semiautomatic rifle and a backpack stuffed with ammunition. His lightning assault, between 2:21 p.m. and a couple of:27 p.m., would depart 17 folks lifeless.
Second by second, lives at Stoneman Douglas have been remodeled, damaged and stolen. College students locked themselves in closets. They thought of combating again, and regarded their very own deaths. And amid gunfire and chaos, they shot pressing textual content messages to their dad and mom.
Jackie McKenna, 17, a senior, texted her mom, Tina McKenna, at 2:30 p.m.
“Mother we’re in a code black,” she wrote. “There are gun photographs.”
“Are you conscious of the state of affairs proper now,” Daniel texted his mom, who speaks Portuguese.
“What occurred,” she texted again.
“Alguma coisa na escola?” One thing at college?
After which: “Are you O.Ok.?”
Six Harrowing Minutes
It was Valentine’s Day. The morning and early afternoon had unfolded in a whirl of massive balloons, stuffed animals and multicolored carnations from a $1 flower sale. The homosexual/straight scholar alliance inspired college students to signal “declarations of affection.” Daniel, 17, a star on the varsity soccer workforce, had given his girlfriend sweets within the car parking zone earlier than faculty.
Simply after 2 p.m., Mr. Cruz, 19, took a compact gold Uber automotive to campus.
Mr. Cruz was texting from contained in the automotive with a scholar at Stoneman Douglas, the son of a household that had taken him in after his mom died in November. Earlier that day, Mr. Cruz had texted: “I’ve to inform you one thing necessary quickly.”
However when his good friend requested what, Mr. Cruz didn’t clarify.
“Nothing man,” he wrote from contained in the Uber, heading to the varsity the place his good friend was in school.
His ultimate textual content got here at 2:18 p.m., a minute earlier than the automotive dropped him off. “Yo,” he wrote.
Then he entered the three-story Freshman Constructing, carrying an AR-15 in a smooth black rifle case.
Chris McKenna, a 15-year-old freshman, was making an attempt to get to the toilet within the constructing when he encountered Mr. Cruz within the stairwell. Mr. Cruz was loading bullets into his rifle.
“He informed me, ‘Higher get out of right here, issues are about to get messy,’” Chris recalled. “I had no concept who he was.”
At 2:21 p.m., Mr. Cruz started taking pictures into 4 lecture rooms.
Moises Lobaton, a senior, was in psychology class when the gunfire boomed. The scholars scurried to get as distant from the door as doable.
Moises, who turned 18 on Friday, counted eight photographs earlier than the bullets shattered the glass window on the door, injuring a minimum of three of his classmates, together with a woman who “wasn’t transferring in any respect.”
“She was subsequent to a pool of blood, however I couldn’t inform if it was hers or the man subsequent to hers,” Moises stated. The boy had been shot within the arm and was bleeding profusely. His classmates wrapped the arm in material. Moises squeezed the hand of his sister’s finest good friend, who was bleeding from a bullet that grazed her knee. One other boy referred to as 911.
“I used to be too scared to lookup, so I saved my head down, wanting on the flooring,” Moises stated. “The photographs have been one thing I’ll always remember. It seemed like bombs going off, one by one. If I used to be one or two toes to the proper, I’d have died.”
After his run-in with Mr. Cruz within the stairwell, Chris went out the closest door and informed Aaron Feis, a soccer coach and safety guard, what he had seen. Mr. Feis took Chris on his golf cart to a baseball discipline, about 500 toes away from the Freshman Constructing.
“He stated, ‘Keep right here,’” Chris recalled. “So I stood there for somewhat bit, after which I heard photographs go off, and from there I ran quick as I may to Walmart.” Different college students later stated Mr. Feis had died shielding folks from gunfire.
Contained in the constructing, Mr. Cruz had moved to the second flooring and shot somebody in a classroom.
Calls started streaming into 911. An outline of the shooter went out over police radio: maroon shirt, black pants and a black hat, and carrying a black duffel bag and a black backpack.
It was 2:24 p.m. Mr. Cruz climbed the steps to the third flooring, the place Scott Beigel, 35, taught freshman geography. He had damaged the category into small teams for a quiz sport on Asian geography.
Mr. Beigel had initially accompanied his class right down to the second flooring when the alarm went off. However as photographs echoed by way of the hallways, he shepherded them again upstairs to take cowl within the classroom. One of many final college students to slide contained in the classroom was Matthew Zeif, 14, simply forward of Mr. Beigel. Seconds later, the room full of smoky haze, Matthew remembered. He turned to see his trainer mendacity by the door, pale and bleeding. He had been shot earlier than he may lock the door.
As college students pressed themselves in opposition to the wall, they frightened that the gunman would enter the room.
Haeseung, who had rushed right into a classroom stuffed with incredulous college students, ultimately heard an administrator on the intercom talking in a severe tone he had by no means heard earlier than: “He stated, ‘evacuate the constructing proper now.’ So I ran once more.”
He rushed outdoors to the bus loop, however lecturers yelled at him to return inside. He ended up in a counseling workplace with 50 different college students, behind locked metallic doorways. Everybody was texting and calling family and friends. Haeseung despatched quite a few texts to his good friend Ben Wikander, who had been in psychology class with him.
Ben didn’t reply. In keeping with information experiences, he had been shot thrice and underwent surgical procedure on Thursday.
Mr. Cruz entered the third-floor stairwell at 2:27 p.m., dropped the rifle and backpack, and ran down the steps, ultimately mixing in with the fleeing college students.
A Persevering with Panic
College students started streaming off campus, operating for his or her lives. Others remained holed up in lecture rooms, storage areas and loos, uncertain what to do as their panicking dad and mom rushed as near the blocked-off faculty as they may get. Cellphones erupted with directions, pleas for assist and rumors.
Andrew Gilroy, whose home is simply behind the highschool, obtained an alarming textual content from his 15-year-old son, William, a freshman, at 2:38 p.m.
“I feel theirs a shooter at college,” the textual content stated. “We’re on lockdown. We’re in a closet.”
Mr. Gilroy rapidly responded: “OMG. Be good.”
William texted: “Do u hear sirens from our home?”
Mr. Gilroy went outdoors and stood atop a berm in his yard, peering on the faculty by way of bushes and shrubs for any clues about what was occurring. He had not heard any taking pictures.
Mr. Gilroy wrote: “Not but … Inform everybody to be quiet … Oxygen and air. Noise self-discipline.”
William replied a couple of minutes later: “OK. I heard they bought him however I don’t know.”
William texted once more, saying that his good friend Eric and a few others have been coming to the home to hunt refuge. “So u know.”
William was nonetheless hiding in a closet in a classroom within the Freshman Constructing. About 10 college students confirmed up on the home. Two of them have been crying and badly shaken up. The youngsters wished to remain outdoors and watch issues develop on the faculty from afar. Mr. Gilroy insisted that all of them go inside.
“I’m pondering that the shooter might be coming by way of right here or there could also be multiple shooter,” he stated. “I informed the youngsters, ‘Are available the home. We’re locking this down.’”
Mr. Gilroy discreetly armed himself with a 9-mm handgun. “Simply in case,” he stated.
After leaving the varsity, Mr. Cruz walked to a Walmart down the street and acquired a drink at a Subway. He additionally stopped at a McDonald’s throughout the road.
Then, as he strolled down a quiet residential avenue lower than half a mile away, the place a few folks have been strolling their canine, he was noticed by a police officer. Michael Leonard had been referred to as in from the neighboring metropolis of Coconut Creek for the emergency, however he determined to peel away from the mass of patrols of the varsity to comb the close by streets.
“He appeared like a typical highschool scholar, and for a fast second I assumed, may this be the one who I must cease?” Officer Leonard stated of Mr. Cruz.
He wore a maroon shirt and black pants. The outline matched. Officer Leonard pulled over.
Mr. Cruz complied with orders and didn’t resist arrest.
However the confusion and worry continued. College students nonetheless on campus waited lengthy into the afternoon because the police swept the buildings and led them out.
Delaney Tarr, a 17-year-old senior who was hiding with fellow college students in a classroom closet, shrank in terror when a SWAT workforce entered round three:45 p.m.
“I feel each individual’s coronary heart stopped once we heard noise,” Delaney stated. “We didn’t know if it’s somebody coming that can assist you or to kill you.”
From afternoon to late within the night, the car parking zone in entrance of a close-by Marriott, a delegated pickup level for fogeys, was filled with police autos. Moms and dads arrived ashen-faced. Some left with relieved smiles, reunited with their youngsters.
By 9:30 p.m., foot visitors had slowed, save for a couple of Crimson Cross volunteers bringing water and snacks to folks who have been nonetheless contained in the resort, nonetheless ready.