Parkland students describe their escape after shots rang out

'When I heard it, my heart dropped,' one student says

By Tim Swift - Local10.com Digital Editor
Headline Goes Here Joe Raedle/Getty Images

PARKLAND, Fla. - A fire alarm rang out and then gunfire erupted. Some students ran for their lives as others locked themselves inside classrooms. 

Shaken students gathered outside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland on Wednesday after the shooting, as some of their classmates remained trapped inside, texting family members and friends.

The view from Sky 10 showed students fleeing the school ground with their hands up.

The students described a frantic scene in the moments after the shooting, which left at least 17 people dead.

Nicholas Rowda, a junior, said he managed to escape after he heard the gunfire.

“When I heard it, my heart dropped. Us students, we didn't think that this was real, that this would ever happen. And after that we just had to run,” Rowda said.

After the interview, Rowda spotted his mother outside the school and hugged her tight. 

A student named Zach said the fire alarm initially did not cause concern because it had gone off earlier in the day.

"At that time, everyone was just messing around and stuff. And then, once we heard (the shots), we were running outside," Zach said. "People were taking Snapchats and stuff and I'm, like, 'Man, you gotta go."

He and other students jumped over a fence on the school grounds and waited at a nearby Walmart for help.

“It’s an insane moment. You’re scared to go to school," Zach said. "You don’t know what could happen.”

Student Dominic Timpone said he was feet from the gunman during the rampage. 

Dominic was in a third-floor classroom when the fire alarm sounded. When he got out of the classroom, he says he spotted the gunman carrying what he described as an assault riffle.

Dominic said he and his classmates ran back to a classroom and locked the door.

"We heard bullets coming closer and closer to us, and then we just heard kids screaming," Dominic said. 

One student told Local 10 New's Amy Viteri that her teacher was shot while trying to get her and others out of the school. The girl said her and friends were stunned.

"Everyone didn't know what to do. So we just ran," she said becoming emotional.

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