• JROTC students use Kevlar pads to shield classmates from Florida shooter

    By: Aaron Diamant


    PARKLAND, Fla. - Students, parents and neighbors stopped by to pay their respects as investigators continue to work the crime scene after a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

    Former student Nikolas Cruz, 19, has been charged with premeditated murder after police say he opened fire with an assault rifle and killed 17 people at the school.

    “No one should have that much hatred towards the world, towards themselves, towards their own life to walk into this school, an amazing school, and take innocent people. It’s just not right,” student Olivia Brochili said.

    Florida officials commended heroes who risked their lives to protect others during the horrific event.

    Beloved football coach, Aaron Feis, was shot while shielding students from the gunfire. He died from his wounds.

    Two junior ROTC students sheltered dozens of classmates under Kevlar sheets.

    Zackary Walls, 17, said students were heading out after a fire alarm went off when they heard shots. He said he did not see the shooter.

    "I heard the first two or three shots. I knew it was gunshots and I look back at all the kids behind me, there's 60 kids looking at me [asking], 'What do I do, where do I go' I just yell, 'Get back in the classroom,'" Walls said.

    He said he saw kids trampling over each other in the hallway, so he herded them into the classroom.

    "I start trying to just herd kids in there, get them to where they're not pushing and trampling each other and just get them into the room safely. I pulled in teachers, I pulled in kids that weren't in my class," he said.

    Colton Haab, 17, said he also heard the shots and turned back towards the classroom.

    "I shut my door, pulled a student in and I brought him into the other room [where Walls was located] and I started getting people in," he said.


    Haab said he noticed the large hanging curtains in the room were made of Kevlar material and told Walls they could use it to protect the students.

    "We made a wall in front of all the kids out of the Kevlar pads," Walls said.

    "I didn't think it was going to stop it, but it would definitely slow the bullet down to make it from a catastrophic to a lifesaving kind of thing," Haab said.

    They also used two tables to barricade the door and sat next to it holding two by four planks of wood "ready to do what we had to do if someone came in the room," Walls said.

    Luckily, they did not need to test their preparedness and makeshift fortress because the shooter never entered the room.

    Parkland Mayor Christine Hunschofsky said the community has a history of rallying around neighbors in need, but there is no way to truly prepare for such a tragedy.

    "There is no way you can prepare mentally and, I think, emotionally, for what you're actually confronted with," she said.

    The mayor said she will not let this tragedy define her community.

    "We're going to do as a city and as a community everything we have to to make sure we can all recover from it," she said.

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