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‘The shots were close’: 911 calls reveal moments of terror at Parkland

Azra, left, and Unser Khan of Parkland grieve outside of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Thursday, Feb. 15, 2018. The family's adult children are both graduates of the school. (Joe Cavaretta/Sun Sentinel/TNS)

Terrified parents called 911 to report their children were hiding in fear under desks at the Parkland, Fla. high school as a rifle-toting gunman fatally shot 17 people, a newly released police audio tape shows.

“My daughter just texted me from the school . . . She says there’s an active shooter,” said the mother of one student, who called as the Feb. 14 attack was happening. “She says she’s behind the desk right now. She says the shots were close.”

After a few moments, the caller, whose name was not released, tells the dispatcher that the day of the shooting was particularly troubling for her daughter. “It’s her birthday today,” the mother said.

The tape, released by the Broward Sheriff’s Office, only includes 10 of the 81 calls received by the regional 911 operators about the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. The released calls have portions edited out and several are emergency dispatchers talking to each other, rather than callers from inside the school.

But the tapes nevertheless provide a glimpse of the horror unfolding inside the school — as well as the eerie quiet in the classrooms as students hoped the shooter, Nikolas Cruz, would pass them by.

Another mother of a student holed up in a classroom was breathless as she tried to communicate information to a dispatcher.

“There was three shots in her room,” said the woman. “Oh my God. Oh my God.”

Only one of the calls released Thursday appeared to be from someone actually phoning from inside the school.

“There’s shots at Stoneman Douglas. Someone is shooting up the school at Stoneman Douglas,” the male caller whispers.

“I’m sorry. I can’t hear you. What’s happening?” the dispatcher says.

“Someone is shooting up Marjory Stoneman Douglas,” the caller whispers again, before the call apparently drops.

Throughout many of the calls, dispatchers are heard trying to get as much information from callers about where they are holed up in the school, and where the gunman is and what he may be doing.

One parent describes how the gunman shot out a pane of glass in the door of the classroom where her daughter was hiding.

“Don’t do nothing. Don’t make no noise,” a dispatcher instructs one parent to tell her daughter, who was communicating via text messages with her mother. “Everybody needs to be quiet in that room.”

Another caller reports that his fiancee’s sister was texting him from the school as the shooting happened.

“Hi, uh, apparently there’s someone shooting guns in Douglas high school,” the caller says.

“Where is she?” the dispatcher asks about his fiancee’s sister.

“She’s in a classroom. I told her to stay safe and hide . . . Damn, that’s scary. Is everyone ok?”


© 2018 USA Today

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