A couple of quick-thinking Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps captains built a wall of Kevlar pads to shield themselves and fellow classmates during Wednesday’s mass school shooting in Parkland, Florida.
Company commander Capt. Zackary Walls, 17, and Capt. Colton Haab, 17, both students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, told ABC News that they heard several gunshots as they were responding to the fire alarm that was pulled by the gunman himself.
Zackary said he had been taught in a program with the Coral Springs Police Department that active shooters often use fire alarms to get their targets to congregate in one place.
“Around 2:30 I hear the bell ring for the fire alarm and we start heading out,” Zackary said. “I heard the first two or three shots, I knew it was gunshots and I look back at all the kids behind me, there’s 60 kids looking at me [asking], ‘What do I do, where do I go’ I just yell, ‘get back in the classroom.’”
“I start trying to just herd kids in there, get them to where they’re not pushing and trampling each other and just get them into the room safely,” he recalled. “I pulled in teachers, I pulled in kids that weren’t in my class.”
That was when Colton remembered the large Kevlar curtains that were hanging in the classroom.
“I brought those curtains out because I knew exactly what they were made of,” Colton said. “As I’m building them I’m thinking I would never need this other than what we’re going to do and after yesterday I’m glad that we had them.”
“We made a wall in front of all the kids out of the Kevlar pads,” Zackary explained. “We took two tables and put them up over by the door for cover. And me and [Colton] grabbed two two-by-fours and we had another kid with a fire extinguisher and we were there sitting, ready to do what we had to if someone came in the room.”
“We were ready to fight,” Colton added.
The gunman fatally shot 17 people and injured more than a dozen others. The accused shooter, Nikolas Cruz, could face the death penalty after being charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder.