Students and teachers who survived the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Florida told investigators they watched classmates die and had bullets fly past them as they huddled in fear, according to new court documents released Friday.
Seventeen people were killed and 14 others hurt in the Feb. 14 shooting.
Prosecutors released the statements on Friday as they build a death penalty case against the shooting suspect, 19-year-old Nickolas Cruz.
Several unidentified teachers and students described the sheer terror of that day.
One ninth-grader told investigators she was writing an essay on her laptop when the shooter started firing into the first-floor hallway of the high school.
She thought it was balloons popping, since it was Valentine’s Day.
The girl said she exchanged a reassuring look with her teacher, but 10 seconds later, a bullet came through the door and shattered her computer screen. She was shot in the chest and bullets grazed her arm.
“That's when everyone starting freaking out and the teacher started screaming, saying to take cover,” the girl said.
She said everyone tried to hide behind the teacher's desk but there wasn't enough room.
The girl told investigators one boy was shot in the head, and he never lost consciousness. She used part of her Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps shirt to apply pressure to the wound.
An algebra teacher told prosecutors that when the shooting happened, she was on the second floor .
She said she immediately called a “code red” active shooter alert in her class and placed tape on her classroom’s floor, marking off the section that couldn’t be seen from the window.
She directed students to dash to that part of the room.
She told investigators she heard the sounds of gunshots increase and gathered her students close. She told investigators she played with one girl’s hair to help her try and stay calm.
The fire alarm went off, but she wasn’t going to evacuate the room, she said.
That decision would save student lives, because many of those who died on the third floor were attempting to flee when the fire alarm went off.
The teacher told investigators that one “very strong young man” placed himself against the wall. She called him the class “hero,” because he planned to charge the gunman if he went into the room.
Thankfully, when the door finally opened, it was police officers, who helped them get out.
One student who knew Cruz told investigators she was standing on the athletic field after being evacuated from the building, and she saw him standing in the crowd.
She told police she thought it was strange, because she knew he had been expelled from the Parkland school the year before.
“I didn't know what he was doing there,” she said.
Another student said he saw Cruz at the nearby Walmart, where students were taken.
“I said, like, ‘I thought you got expelled last year.’ And he's like, ‘No the school took me back in.”
The student said he believed him.
“He was pretty scared. He was like, all terrified,” he said. That’s when the boy told police he lost sight of Cruz and didn’t see him again.
The boy said he met Cruz during his sophomore year. He described Cruz as racist, who often spoke of violence and bringing knives, bullets and even dead animals to school.
Cruz's attorneys have said he would plead guilty in exchange for a life sentence without parole. Prosecutors have said they will seek the death penalty.
The Associated Press contributed to this report
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