(PARKLAND, Fla.) — A Florida police officer was overcome with emotion as he described responding to last week’s mass shooting at a high school, where his wife and son were on lockdown inside.
“It was surreal,” Coral Springs police Sgt. Jeff Heinrich said at a news conference this morning, telling his story through tears.
Heinrich was off duty on Valentine’s Day but happened to be watering the baseball field at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where his wife is an assistant athletic director and his son is a student, when the shooting happened.
Heinrich said he heard the fire alarm go off and then gunshots, but at first he thought it was fireworks. He noticed students walking to the parking lot were relaxed as if was a usual fire drill.
Then, the children started to run and scream and he heard a round of five or six shots, Heinrich said.
Heinrich said he ran toward the parking lot where the students were and found a student named Kyle who had a gunshot wound to his ankle. Heinrich grabbed Kyle and took him to the baseball area, where he said he used a first-aid kit at the clubhouse to treat him.
Kyle, while seriously injured, managed to give Heinrich a great description of what was going on and what the shooter was wearing, which Heinrich then relayed to the dispatcher, he said.
Kyle survived and remains in the hospital, Heinrich said.
Heinrich, emotional and holding back tears told reporters, “I called my wife. Luckily I was able to get ahold of her. By the grace of God my wife and my son who are on opposite ends of the school … they both heard the fire alarm and decided to evacuate.”
His wife and son found each other and were able to shelter in place together with other teachers and students, Heinrich said, crying.
Heinrich said he continued to work the rest of the day and didn’t reunite with his family until 10 p.m.
Officer Chris Crawford, a former Marine, was also among the officers sharing their stories.
Crawford said he rescued a 14-year-old boy who had been shot several times. He was trying to get the teen to where the fire department was, but the boy told him he couldn’t breathe or walk, he said. When Crawford put him down, he said he found injuries to his back, shoulder, thigh and arm.
“It’s awful,” Crawford said. “It’s as bad as you can imagine — times 10.”
Crawford also said when he knocked on one class door and identified himself, the students pushed desks up against the door and refused to let him in. Crawford said the students made him pass his ID to them and read off his ID number to provide his identity.
Crawford said his wife is a detective and he’s a father of a 2-year-old.
“I don’t want to send him to school,” Crawford said.
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