In the wake of the deadliest school shooting in five years, students detailed the frightful experiences they faced while trying to flee from 19-year-old former student and gunman, Nikolas Cruz. Students also credited two heroic teachers they say intervened. Many say they might not be alive right now if not for those teachers.
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Kelsey Friend was present at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida when Cruz began his rampage that left a reported 17 dead. She credited her 35-year-old geography teacher, Scott Beigel, as one of the reasons she is not one of those reported statistics.
“I am alive today because of him,” she told Good Morning America. Unfortunately, Beigel lost his life in the process of protecting just one more student. CNN reported that it was Beigel’s first year working at the school.
According to the Daily Mail, Beigel saw a group of students running towards his classroom. He unlocked the door and let them in. Sadly, he was not able to lock the door again before Cruz shot and killed him in the doorway of the classroom.
“He unlocked the door and let us in. I thought he was behind me but he wasn’t. When he opened the door, he had to relock it so that we could stay safe but he didn’t get the chance,” Friend recalled.
Friend was fully aware that it could have easily been her that could have been killed. “I am alive today because of him. Thank you for bringing and having this amazing person in life and giving him the power to be stronger than I could have ever been. He will be missed by me and multiple friends, his name with me will live on.”
Another staff member at the school lost his life as well trying to protect the droves of students running from Cruz. Football coach Aaron Feis used his body as a shield to protect students from the gunfire. He died after being rushed into surgery at a nearby hospital.
A spokesperson for the school football team remembered him as who he was — a hero. “He died the same way he lived — he put himself second,” Denise Lehtio said. “He was a very kind soul, a very nice man. He died a hero.”
Cruz, who has since been charged with the premeditated murder of 17 people, was alleged to have been a loner and a troubled student when he attended Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
He was expelled from the school after he got into an altercation with another student over an ex-girlfriend, the New York Times reported. The motive for the attack is not known at this time.