"I didn't have a chance to say goodbye": Florida students describe shooting, aftermath

PARKLAND, Fla. -- A group of students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School told "CBS Evening News" anchor Jeff Glor that their community and country "will get through this as a family." Four students -- clad in their clothes bearing their school's Eagles logo -- spoke to Glor on Thursday, one day after 14 students and three teachers were gunned down in their high school. Suspect Nikolas Cruz was charged Thursday with 17 counts of premeditated murder. 

"If there's anything that needs to be said right now, it's that when you shut this TV off, you have to go home and tell every single person you know you love them, because you never know when your last time is going to be," said senior Jack Haimowitz.

The students described to Glor what they saw inside their school on Valentine's Day. There had been a fire drill earlier in the day, and they initially thought there was another one. 

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From left to right, Sierra Damiani, Ariana Calamia, Kelsey Friend and Jack Haimowitz.

CBS News

Sophomore Ariana Calamia described it as a "scary moment."

"We went downstairs they were screaming, 'Code red, code red,' and they were saying, 'Keep on going, go back up,'" Ariana said. "It was hard to believe that someone -- an individual -- would have this much power."

Sophomore Sierra Damiani said she and some her classmates weren't aware of what was happening until "our parents -- who we didn't tell anything too -- started texting us and asking if we were OK, where we are, then we realized it was an active shooter."

"I saw confusion and panic in the faces of people that I went to school with, played rec sports with and saw every single day of my life for the last four years," Jack, the senior, said. He said he was just 100 feet from the suspect while he was firing.

Freshman Kelsey Friend said the suspect "was very active," walking down the hallway.

"He had shot and killed my teacher and my door was wide open and I was hiding in an open room that the shooter could have easily walked into and killed me," Kelsey said.

Kelsey described that teacher as "an amazing person. Mr. Beigel is his name, and he will forever be in my heart and forever be my hero, because he basically saved my life. If it wasn't for him, I might not be here today."

Jack said one of his best friends was killed in the shooting.

"I didn't have a chance to say goodbye to one of my best friends," Jack said. "And I got to find out this morning that he didn't make it. I have think what I am going to wear to his funeral now."

Kelsey said she "lost quite a few friends yesterday," including a close friend that she had class with. "Knowing that they're gone, and I would argue with them, and now that person's gone and I can never say I'm sorry."

"There were a lot of people we lost, and they were wonderful people with great families," Sierra said. "Those families do not deserve what happened to them."

"My mom's best friend was waiting all night because she couldn't find her son and now he is no longer with us," Sierra said. "And I think that this could have been prevented. He should never have been able to get a gun."

Glor asked the students about how they felt about suddenly being thrust into the center of the national conversation about mass shootings and gun violence.

"We shouldn't sensationalize school shootings because that would downplay the severity of what this means to the Parkland community and students and families of Douglas," Jack said. "The best way to go about recovering from this is by providing support, love and attention to those who need it and then go about addressing a political agenda, instead of -- because, within about an hour and a half of hearing that best friend's got shot, I turn on the news' livestream to see people were using this as an argument against gun control."

Sierra agreed that "yesterday was way too early to start talking about it -- I don't think that anybody should be using this for their political agenda." But, she added, "I do also think, at the same time, this kid should have never been allowed to get his hands on a gun if he was mentally insane ever. Never."

Kelsey said they will "be brave and fight. We're Eagles. We're not puppies."