Worried parents waited anxiously for their children to emerge from a South Florida high school where a shooting took place Wednesday afternoon, snd one mother said her daughter texted her, telling her to stay away from the school.
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The mother of a Stoneman Douglas High School student, named Crystal, said her daughter texted her at the start of the shooting while still inside the school, telling her that she heard the gunshots and that she was scared.
“We’re safe mom, you stay away,” Crystal texted, according to her mother, who rushed to the school from the nail salon, where she saw the news break on television.
Crystal told her mother that she couldn’t speak to her over the phone because teachers were instructing them to be quiet. Crystal also texted that she didn’t want to go to school the next day.
“I said, ‘Don’t worry about it,'” the worried mother told ABC Miami affiliate WPLG.
Another mother said she told her son, freshman Dubby Johnson, to run after he called her in a panic, telling her, “There’s a shooting at school!”
“It’s the scariest thing ever for your son to call you and say there’s a shooting in school,” she told WLPG.
Dubby said he was outside the school when he heard two gunshots. He then saw a crowd of people running in his direction before teachers came out and instructed them to run as well.
“As soon as I saw a whole bunch of people running, I got scared,” Dubby said.
Some of the students sought refuge at a Walmart near the school, but Dubby’s mother said she couldn’t get there at first.
“I think I’m gonna hold him a little tighter tonight,” she said.
One mother expressed anger that “not one thing is gonna change” after the numerous school shootings in the U.S. in recent years.
“This country has gone bananas,” she said.
Her son, a theater student, said that the fire alarm that went off was unexpected because they had just practiced a fire drill this morning. After they heard three gunshots, about 70 students huddled together in one of the two theater rooms to stay safe.
He didn’t have his phone, but he used others’ to text his parents and tell them he was safe. Once he got outside, he called his family, but he was worried about his sister, who attends a nearby middle school.
“Thank God nothing happened [to her],” he said.
His mother asked what it would take for the country to make a change.
“We can’t let this go on,” she said. “Not more of our children can die anymore.”
Amanda Samaroo, whose son attends the nearby middle school “just beside” Stoneman Douglas High School, said police were all over the middle school campus as well as they searched for the suspected shooter while he was still on the loose.
Samaroo said she couldn’t believe it when she saw the news on television, adding that Parkland, the small community where the school is located, is a “very safe place to be” and a “really lovely place to live.”
Samaroo said that while teachers did a “superb job” of keeping the children safe, it was hard to stay away from the school. She described the ordeal as a “nightmare” because her son was unable to grab his cell, so she couldn’t figure out what was going on and whether he was safe.
“It was unnerving,” she said.
A grandmother who was visiting from New York cried as she told reporters that they couldn’t get ahold of her granddaughter, a senior at the school. The grandmother said that a student close to her granddaughter was shot at the school.
One mother said her freshman daughter was locked down in the auditorium.
“She’s texting back, thank god,” she said of her daughter. “I’ll be relieved when she comes out and I can give her a hug.”
One shaking mother told WPLG that her daughter said she was OK, huddled in a locked classroom.
“She’s terrified,” the mother said. “She said she heard the gunshot.”
“I’m glad that she’s able to text,” she added.
At least 17 people were killed in the shooting, according to the Broward County Sheriff’s Office.
More than 3,000 people attend the school.
Video showed students running, some with backups on, with their hands up away from the school.
The suspected shooter was taken into custody, officials said.
ABC News’ Whitney Lloyd contributed to this report.