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They Thought It Was A Second Fire Drill: Students And Parents Describe Shooting Chaos

Seventeen people were killed and 15 injured when a former student opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Wednesday.
AP
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The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

When fire alarms blared for the second time on Wednesday at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, many students found it a little odd. They'd already had a fire drill earlier in the day, and were surprised to have another one with just 20 minutes left in their last class period.

Read more: Shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High Leaves At Least 17 Dead

Marcus Landen, a sophomore, was among students who walked out of the school, confused.

"I heard a pop, but I didn't think it was, like, a gun or anything," he said. "And then we heard more pops, and we were running as, like, a joke, like 'Oh, someone's shooting up the school.' "

But they realized it wasn't a joke when another student ran up to them.

"He had a hole in his foot. He was like, ‘I just got shot. Everyone run.’ ”

Other students realized there was a shooter through social media.

"There were videos on Snapchat of people walking over dead bodies, blood on people's hands, a dead teacher on the ground," said Brandon Dasent, a junior. "It's insane."

Parents waited at the intersection of the Sawgrass Expressway and Coral Ridge Drive, trying to reunite with their children.
Credit Terence Shepherd / WLRN
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WLRN
Parents waited at the intersection of the Sawgrass Expressway and Coral Ridge Drive, trying to reunite with their children.

Parents, meanwhile, began receiving frantic text messages from their children. Sean Jordan and his wife were both texting their daughter Sophie, a sophomore, who was hiding in a classroom.

"She said she heard shots," he said. "She was saying, 'I'm on the floor.' We just said, put a bag in front of you."

Nicole Rodrigues, a sophomore at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, waited at a staging site a few blocks from the school.
Credit Peter Haden / WLRN
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WLRN
Nicole Rodrigues, a sophomore at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, waited at a staging site a few blocks from the school.

Many students who'd hidden in classrooms waited an hour or two for law enforcement personnel to help them escape. They were escorted to staging sites a few blocks from the school.

"I'm just waiting for my parents to come pick me up," said Nicole Rodrigues, a sophomore, who was standing at a staging site at the corner of Holmberg Road and University Drive. "There's a lot of traffic. We're just waiting to see what's going to happen."

WLRN Reporters Caitie Switalski, Terence Shepherd and Peter Haden contributed to this report.

Copyright 2020 WLRN 91.3 FM. To see more, visit WLRN 91.3 FM.

Kate Stein can't quite explain what attracts her to South Florida. It's more than just the warm weather (although this Wisconsin native and Northwestern University graduate definitely appreciates the South Florida sunshine). It has a lot to do with being able to travel from the Everglades to Little Havana to Brickell without turning off 8th Street. It's also related to Stein's fantastic coworkers, whom she first got to know during a winter 2016 internship.Officially, Stein is WLRN's environment, data and transportation journalist. Privately, she uses her job as an excuse to rove around South Florida searching for stories à la Carl Hiaasen and Edna Buchanan. Regardless, Stein speaks Spanish and is always thrilled to run, explore and read.