The following account was shared by Sofie Whitney, 17, a senior at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland:
“We were in our fourth period, which is our drama class. We were all in there and were rehearsing. The fire alarm went off and we were kind of confused because we had a real fire drill earlier that day. So, we were a little hesitant to go outside. And then, we walked outside and we heard a couple gunshots.
“The building I was in was right across from the building that the shooting happened. So, it was very loud… We didn’t really know it was a gunshot because, in my head, gunshots are like one shot, but apparently he had an automatic weapon so it was just really loud bangs. When we went out there we saw administration and we saw people like freaking out. So we all, all of our instincts were just to run. And then, we saw people telling us ‘go back in the classroom,’ so we just ran back there instinctively.
“There’s a pretty big closet in the back of the room, but there’s about 65 kids in that class, because we are like a production class that puts on shows, so we had a lot of kids. So we all went in the closet. It was really dark, but we all somehow fit in. And, our teacher (Melody Herzfeld) barricaded the door.
“(The atmosphere) was really hostile, because drama kids have very big personalities and we were all just super scared and you could tell. And everyone was, like every time anyone would make a sound everyone would shush them. And, we could hear people crying. We were all trying to talk to our family on the phones. But not, like, talk. We were all trying to contact them over text or however we could.
“We all kind of knew (to stay quiet) because our school prepared us for this. But like, you can’t. I don’t know. We all just knew that making noise could only draw attention to our classroom, so we all were quiet.
“I eventually got (cellular) service, because I used my friend’s phone. I talked to my family. I was getting texts from people across the country that I know, telling me, asking if I was OK and that was when I realized that it was a lot worse than we all thought it was.
“I started getting texts from people I haven’t spoken to in years that live in Pennsylvania and New York, saying, ‘Are you OK? I just heard about it on the news!’
“I just was, like, ‘I need to stay calm,’ because freaking out isn’t going to help. But I, never in a million years, like, I was so confident that we were going to make it out alive. I don’t know. Maybe it’s because I felt safe because I was with all of my friends, or my teacher. But, I guess, being in drama, I don’t know. I felt like I was in the safest place I could have been. Even though we were so close to the shooting, I don’t know. I never had a doubt that we (weren’t) going to die. People around me did. But, I just felt like we were going to be OK.
“I was with my best friend Dylan. I know there were 65 kids in there but I’m pretty sure it felt like we were the only two people in there, because I just… If she wasn’t it there, I don’t know what I would have done.
“We had a friend that was talking, because one of her family friends was, is a sheriff in Broward. So, he was giving us updates, saying that the SWAT team was coming, so that was, that’s all we heard until the SWAT team arrived.
“Most of my friends are in drama. And everyone in drama survived. But a lot of people, none of my close friends passed away, but a lot of people I know did.
“I’d never heard of (Nikolas Cruz) in my life. We have so many kids in our school, I only know like 100 or 200 people.
“A kid that’s 19 shouldn’t have a gun.”
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