FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – A teacher who survived the 2018 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School was the prosecution’s first witness in the school shooter’s penalty phase trial.
On Monday, Brittany Sinitch sat in a Broward County courtroom in Fort Lauderdale, to talk about the harrowing experience that left her suffering with post-traumatic stress disorder.
”We were writing Valentine’s Day cards,” she said in court.
Sinitch was 22 years old.
She had just started teaching in 2017 and she chose the school where she graduated from. The school she loved.
Sinitch said she was in classroom 1218 teaching freshman English.
Her students had been studying “Romeo and Juliette.”
The loud shooting interrupted her class.
”You could just feel it within your body; all throughout my chest,” Sinitch said. It’s a feeling that returned after she left the school.
Nikolas Cruz killed 17 and injured 17 others.
None of her students were injured, but she continued to get flashbacks.
As Cruz fired his AR-15, a student made sure the door was shut, she said.
Her other students took cover.
”I had some of them behind my desk,” Sinitch said.
When Assistant State Attorney Mike Satz played her 911 call loudly in the courtroom, Sinitch started to cry.
To deal with the trauma, Sinitch had to take a year off.
She founded The Unbreakable Organization, a nonprofit that aims to help others heal from trauma.