DUDLEY, Mass. (WHDH) — Representatives from Nichols College in Dudley were at a Florida high school for a recruiting trip when the shooting started.
Gunshots rang out around them as four students and a dean and coach from Nichols huddled in an athletic office inside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Wednesday.
Assistant Dean for Enrollment Paul Brower said they started their recruitment visit just 20 minutes before hearing what sounded like explosions.
“The fire alarm sounded and we looked at each other,” he said.
A code red came over the loudspeaker. A student Brower was with remarked that the person’s voice sounded nervous and they soon realized this wasn’t a text.
The group stayed close together, learning of the horror through text messages and social media.
Brower praised the school staff for knowing exactly what to do, even as heavily armed police came in to evacuate them.
“The teacher had to give, the coach had to give a code word. They opened the door; we had to go out the door single file, hands up. They brought us across into a large gym area where everyone one of us, they patted us down and searched all the bags that we had,” explained Brower.
The numbing reality hit as Brower watched the students of the school learn of those who died and seeing the anxious parents desperate for any sign of their child.
“You could see hundreds of moms and hundreds of dads looking at the line of students coming out and looking for their child,” said Brower. “I hope no one ever has to go through that because the looks on their face alone, the anguish they were going through, you just simply can’t imagine.”
One of the victims from the fatal shooting was assistant football coach and security guard Aaron Feis.
“He selflessly shielded students from the shooter when he was shot. He died a hero and he will forever be in our hearts and memories,” read the school football team’s Twitter account.
Brower said he knew Feis and called him beloved, friendly and a fixture in his players’ lives.
Representatives from Nichols are expected back home Thursday evening.
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