Mother Recounts Hearing From Her Daughter During Florida School Shooting

Feb 14, 2018
Originally published on February 14, 2018 8:05 pm
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ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

We're still gathering information about a shooting this afternoon at a high school in south Florida. More than 3,000 students attend Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. It's in the City of Parkland. The Broward Sheriff's Office says at least 17 people are dead. Sheriff Scott Israel also says the suspect in custody is named Nikolaus Cruz. He's 19 years old and is not a current student, and he was heavily armed.

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SCOTT ISRAEL: He had countless magazines. And at this point, we believe he had one AR-15 rifle. I don't know if he had a second weapon right now.

SHAPIRO: Earlier I spoke with a parent, Lissette Rozenblat. Her daughter goes to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. I started by asking if her daughter is safe.

LISSETTE ROZENBLAT: Yes, thank God. She just got home about 15 minutes ago. It took her about two and a half hours to get home after she was evacuated. It was a nerve-racking afternoon, honestly. We got the first text from her about 2:30 in the afternoon, and she told us there was a shooter in the school. She texted us. We told her to stay calm. And the first thing we did was hang up with her and call the school to find out if it was a rumor or if it was true.

The school verified. And immediately my husband took off towards the school. She was telling me she was safe. She was hiding but to please call the police because there was somebody hurt, and she could hear them crying out for help. She says they were praying. It was a Spanish-speaking student, and she could hear him just crying out. She must've texted me three times. Please call the police. Please call the police. Tell them somebody's hurt on my building in my floor.

SHAPIRO: Yeah. And then after half an hour, she got back in touch with you again.

ROZENBLAT: She did. What happened in the interim was I had a lot of parents of her friends were calling me, you know, telling me that they had their child. You know, had I talked to mine? And then I just started getting more and more frantic. And I think what happened is that her friends were in different buildings. My daughter was evacuated. She says what happened is the police was banging on the door, saying, open up; it's the police. But I guess now they've been trained to not open the door even when they hear that.

SHAPIRO: Yeah.

ROZENBLAT: The windows were broken in, and they just escaped. They started running, but she just ran frantically the opposite direction. She ended up at a friend's house, hiding out there. And then that's when she was able to call me and tell me she was OK.

SHAPIRO: What was it like when you got that call?

ROZENBLAT: Oh, my God. I was so happy. I can't even begin to tell you. That half hour where I didn't hear from her and hearing that people were shot - you know, that's where it just took me over the edge, watching the news and knowing that people were actually injured and that she was on the same floor. And immediately you think the worst.

We live in a really nice neighborhood. And you think - we were just voted I think one of the safest cities. And then here we are on Valentine's Day, and this happens, you know? You never think this is going to happen in your neighborhood, in your area, and it does. I'm just praying for all the victims.

SHAPIRO: Does your daughter know if any of her friends were shot in this incident?

ROZENBLAT: She still doesn't know. Like, her closest friends, her best friends - thankfully they're fine. We do know someone who was injured. He happens to be a hockey friend of my son's who's younger. But thankfully he's OK. He got shot, and I think he was grazed in the back. But when she got home, you know, after the hugs and the I love you, I'm glad you're OK, then I asked her questions. She said that she saw people that were dead. She saw blood on the floor. And they kept telling them not to look, not to look. But she says, I couldn't - peripheral vision, you just can't avoid it. So she's traumatized, to say the least, as I'm sure many of the kids are.

SHAPIRO: What's her emotional situation right now? I know she's only just recently come home.

ROZENBLAT: She's in shock, and she doesn't even want to think about school. And she's worried for her friends. And I'm with my neighbors outside now because we live in a community where all of our children go to the same school. So all of the neighbors are outside right now just kind of hugging and, like - thank God our kids are fine.

SHAPIRO: Lissette Rozenblat, I'm so glad your daughter is OK. Thank you for talking with us.

ROZENBLAT: Thank you so much. I appreciate the call.

SHAPIRO: Lissette Rozenblat is the parent of a student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where there was a shooting today. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.