On February 14, 17-year-old Madeline Wilford was sitting at her desk at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida. Chatting with classmates. Perhaps counting down the minutes till the day’s end, wondering if she might receive a Valentine’s Day rose.
The shooter could be heard a few classrooms down, his shots breaking through the glass windows of the first class room, through the door, onto the next classroom.
Wilford and her classmates dropped to the floor, wedging themselves into hiding away from the door and windows. The 17-year-old basketball player was hiding between the teacher’s desk and podium, but was pushed toward the centre of the room as the gunman approached.
“I felt a shot hit me,” she said. “I realised I was shot and an immense amount of pain went over me. The first thing I thought was that I was going to die. I was screaming, ‘Help me! Help me!’ I was frantic. I didn’t know what to do.”
Wilford was shot four times. She suffered a collapsed lung, broken ribs and three tendons had to be reattached in her right arm. She said she felt peace, as she collapsed against the wall.
Amelia Lester explains why the aftermath of the school shooting in Florida feels different to that of any shooting before it. Post continues below.
It was silence, not mayhem, when Officer Chris Crawford arrived at the school moments after the shooting.
Victims of the gunfire lay in the hallways, as teachers and students hid in classrooms, fearing for their lives. Even those who had called 911 were too afraid to speak, lest they attracted the attention of the shooter.
“It was awful. It was as bad as you can imagine, times 10,” Officer Crawford told CNN.
“Every time I turned around, there was another officer with blood [of victims] all over them. It was horrendous… I have a two-year-old. I don’t want to send him to school.”