Stoneman Douglas High teacher risked life for students during mass shooting

PARKLAND, FLA. (WSVN) - A teacher at Stoneman Douglas High School risked her life for her students during Wednesday’s mass shooting.

In a cellphone interview, teacher Melissa Falkowski, who escaped the shooting, said the gunshots rang out close to school dismissal and described the moments she realized this was not a drill.

“It was the end of the school day, and the fire alarm went off, and we went to evacuate as if it was a fire drill,” Falkowski said. “We got 15, 20 steps out of the classroom, and we were told we were on Code Red. We ran back inside to the classroom and crouched down on the floor, and then we moved into the closet.”

Falkowski said she was in the closet hiding along with 19 other students, and they were in there for about 40 minutes until SWAT retrieved them.

Falkowski spoke to a co-worker who explained to her what she saw.

“A friend of mine teaches in the freshman building, and she said, as she was leaving, there were bodies on the floor,” she said.

Falkowski said this could have been a lot worse if they had not had the proper training.

“We just had a training about this, maybe six weeks ago, about how to deal with the situation. If we hadn’t had that training, it could have been a lot worse. A lot of us probably thought that this was the drill that we were supposed to have this semester to practice, and it wasn’t. It was real.”

Students praised Falkowski for her heroic actions. A student on Twitter said in part, “Being one of those 19 kids for numerous hours was beyond surreal. Melissa Falkowski, the teacher, was one of the few that kept me calm and safe.”

“I’m beyond thankful for educators like her,” said Twitter user “merm.”

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