parkland school shooting

‘Instantly Gone': Wounded Parkland Students Testify to Watching Classmates Killed

Multiple students give chilling testimony in sentencing of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High shooting

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Students who were wounded and witnessed classmates gunned down in the Parkland school shooting were the first to testify Wednesday at the gunman's sentencing trial.

Ashley Baez graduated from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in 2020 but testified that she was in band class the day of the Feb. 14, 2018 shooting that left 17 people dead and 17 injured, including Baez.

Baez said she left class to use the bathroom and decided to walk to the nearby freshman building.

As she was walking to the bathroom, Baez said she encountered someone who looked "freaked out" and went running up some stairs.

"As I turned around I saw the shooter coming out of the stairwell and then I immediately turned back around and that's when the firing started," Baez testified.

Baez said she found the bathroom locked but was able to get into an unlocked classroom.

Parkland school shooting survivor Ashley Baez testifies at the sentencing trial for the gunman.

But while she was running through the hallway, a bullet hit her in both of her legs.

"I had a bullet wound enter my right leg, and then explode on my left side," she said.

Baez said she underwent four surgeries as a result.

Genesis Valentin testified Wednesday that she was in the classroom of English teacher Dara Hass when the gunfire erupted.

"I remember hearing some shots outside the room," Valentin said. "At first I thought it was just balloons because everybody had balloons because it was Valentine’s Day."

Valentin said she and her classmates quickly realized it wasn't balloons so they tried to hide from the gunfire.

"After we heard about three shots we were like 'this is not normal' so we started to hide and then after we hid we heard more, that's when we knew this was serious," she said. "We heard screaming so we knew this was getting bad."

Valentin said she was hit by some shrapnel in her legs, but two girls who were next to her, Alaina Petty and Alyssa Alhadeff, didn't make it.

"They were both instantly gone after being wounded," Valentin said.

Parkland school shooting survivor Genesis Valentin testifies at the sentencing trial for the gunman.

A third student, Alex Schachter, was also killed in Hass' classroom.

After Valentin, social studies teacher Ivy Schamis testified. Schamis said she was teaching a class about Holocaust history when the shooting started.

"The students flew out of their seats trying to find cover in a very small room," she said. "It was really seconds later that the barrel of that AR-15 just ambushed our classroom, it came right through the glass panel in the door and was just shooting everywhere, it was extremely loud, it was very frightening and I kept think about these kids that should not be experiencing this at all."

Two students in Schamis' class, Helena Ramsay and Nicholas Dworet, were killed in Schamis' room.

Former MSD teacher Ivy Schamis describes her experience the day of the 2018 school shooting.

Teacher Juletta Matlock testified Wednesday that she initially thought the shooting was a drill that staff had been told to expect, but the continuing gunfire quickly made her think otherwise.

"The sounds just kept coming and kept coming," Matlock said.

Matlock said two of her students, Luke Hoyer and Martin Duque, had asked to go to the media center to work on a project. A third student, Gina Montalto, had been working on a project on her computer just outside the classroom, Matlock said.

Hoyer, Duque and Montalto were all shot and killed in the hallway.

English and creative writing teacher Stacey Lippel testified that she heard popping sounds she thought may have been fireworks or something dropping before the fire alarm went off, and she and her students started making their way out of the classroom.

But when she heard screaming and everyone started running, she started running back to her classroom with other students.

That's when she saw the shooter emerge from the stairwell, about 20 feet from her and moving toward her, she testified.

"It was just shot after shot after shot, it just never stopped," Lippel said.

Lippel testified that she yelled at fellow teacher Scott Biegel to close his classroom door she she closed hers. Moments later, gunshots came into her classroom through the glass panel on the door, she said.

She said she heard students Anthony Borges, who was badly wounded in the shooting, screaming for help from the hallway.

Biegel and two of Lippel's students, Meadow Pollack and Joaquin Oliver, were killed in the shooting.

Borges later testified that he laid down in the hallway after he was shot and was "waiting for everything to stop."

He said he remembered calling for help and thinking he'd only been shot once, but it turned out he'd been hit five times in his legs and back, and has undergone 14 surgeries.

Other students who were also wounded in the shooting testified Wednesday.

Samantha Mayor said her class was in the middle of a lesson when shots rang out.

"We heard gunshots, and then the gunshots started going into our classroom," Mayor testified. "I remember closing my eyes and not looking and still not knowing what was going on."

Mayor said some of her classmates who were injured were screaming and moaning, and at first she didn't realize that she had also been injured.

"Then I realized that I couldn’t really move my leg," she said. "I asked someone next to me why my knee was hurting, I couldn't really tell and then they let me know that I had been shot in the knee...I believe that it shattered my knee cap."

Mayor said her teacher started wrapping the injured students' wounds with anything she could find until police arrived.

Student Madeline Wilford testified that she tried to hide before she was hit by gunfire.

"I didn't know how many times, I just knew I was hit and I tried looking behind me to see if anyone could help me but all I saw was blood on the floor," Wilford said.

Wilford said she passed out and was in and out of consciousness until she woke up more than a day after the shooting.

"I was shot four times, in my right arm, my right lung, some of my ribs on my right side, and I had surgery on my abdomen," she said.

Wilford said she underwent three surgeries which allow her to use her hand, but said she still has trouble breathing.

Kyle Laman testified that he was evacuating for the fire alarm when he saw the gunman come out and open fire in the hallway.

"I blinked and everything just went bad," Laman said. "I remember seeing a lot of bodies on the floor."

Laman said he felt a pain in his foot and didn't realize at first that he'd been shot.

"I felt like a very strong, I don't know how to explain it, like a paintball shot to my foot," he said, adding that he looked down and saw his ankle "blown off to bits."

Laman said he underwent five or six surgeries to help him be able to walk.

Student Nicolette Miciotta testified Wednesday that she ran into the shooter after she evacuated from the school, but had no idea what he'd just done.

"I had turned around and I saw the shooter was standing behind me," Miciotta said. "I had known him since middle school, I had just not known he had left the school."

Miciotta said the gunman was standing with other students, wearing a maroon Stoneman Douglas JROTC shirt.

"I said 'hi' and he said 'hi' back and I said, 'you have any college plans?' and he said 'somewhere in Florida,'" Miciotta said.

Moments later, the gunman was gone, Miciotta said.

The gunman has pleaded guilty to all the charges against him and is facing the death penalty or life in prison.

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