Teacher hailed as hero after she hid 19 students in a classroom closet after gunman opened fire

Image capture of video via CBS Evening News' YouTube account
  • Melissa Falkowski hid 19 of her students in a classroom closet
  • For 30 minutes, Falkowski and the students waited in fear until they heard the SWAT officers secure the area
  • A 19-year-old former student, Nikolas Cruz, , entered the school in Marjory Stoneman Douglas High
  • Witnesses said he pulled the fire alarm to draw his former classmates and teachers out into the hallway before opening fire with an AR-15 assault rifle

A teacher is hailed a hero after she hid 19 of her students in a classroom closet as a gunman open fired a Florida high school – killing 17 people and wounding more than a dozen others.

Melissa Falkowski, a teacher at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, heard there was an active shooter on campus, and her instincts kicked in.

“I managed to put 19 kids in the closet with me,” said Falkowski via CNN. “This is the worst nightmare that could ever happen to you.”

“It was the end of the school day, and the fire alarm went off, and we went to evacuate as if there was a fire drill,” Falkowski recalled.

“Then we got maybe 15, 20 steps outside of the classroom, and we were told we were on… and we ran back inside to the classroom, and crouched down on the floor, and then we moved into the closet, and we were hidden in the closet.”

For 30 minutes, Falkowski and the students waited in fear until they heard the SWAT officers secure the area.

The former student identified as Nikolas Cruz entered the school in a Marjory Stoneman Douglas High JROTC shirt. Witnesses reportedly said he pulled the fire alarm to draw his former classmates and teachers out into the hallway before opening fire with an AR-15 assault rifle. Authorities said he was carrying several magazines for the weapon.

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