When Colton Haab heard gunfire ring out at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Wednesday, the training he received during his Junior ROTC classes kicked in. The 17-year-old junior first led 60 to 70 students and faculty members to the Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps room. Then, he had an idea that helped shield them from the attack.
Haab realized that the Kevlar sheets, usually used as part of the JROTC’s marksmanship program, could provide a barrier between the group and the gunman.
“We took those sheets,” said Haab during an interview with CNN, “and we put them in front of everybody so they weren’t seen because they were behind a solid object and the Kevlar would slow the bullet down.”
“I didn’t think it was going to stop it,” Haab added, “but it would definitely slow [the bullets] down to make it from a catastrophic to a lifesaving thing.”
Haab’s response during the mass shooting at the Parkland, Florida, high school is being hailed as heroic. Fortunately, the gunman, who is responsible for 17 deaths at the school, never entered the JROTC room.
But, even if he had, Haab asserted that he and a friend had a plan.
“I was a little scared,” said Haab. “I was more worried about getting home safe, making sure everybody got home safe.”
“God forbid, if he did come into the classroom,” he added. “I didn’t want that to happen but, if it did, I would try to stop him with another friend of mine that was with us.”
While Haab didn’t have to confront the gunman, Aaron Feis, an assistant football coach and school security guard, decided to do just that. Haab said he saw Feis rush toward the shooter during the assault. He later found out that Feis was one of those who died during the incident.
Feis was killed as he attempted to shield a group of students from the gunman.
“That’s Coach Feis. He wants to make sure everybody is safe before himself,” said Haab.
“He’s definitely in a better place now. I’m glad that he didn’t suffer that much. It’s sad because it’s not going to be the same without him at school anymore.”