Samantha Grady was working on an assignment Wednesday in her Holocaust class at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, when she heard two rapid gunshots outside in the hallway.
The junior didn’t know it then, but she had just heard the murders of two people.
Grady took cover, but was still grazed by a bullet as the alleged gunman, Nikolas Cruz, 19, fired through the broken glass of the classroom’s locked door. One of the rounds hit her best friend, the teen said through tears Thursday morning as she spoke to Today hosts Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb.
“Unfortunately, she didn’t make it,” Grady told them tearfully.
Grady was trying to show a friend something on her phone when the shots startled her.
“I ran to the left side of the classroom,” Grady told Today. “That’s where there was a big bookshelf. We all kind of huddled there together. We clamped really close tightly together, and then, students in front of me, there was this cabinet … they pushed it in front of them so that it would deter some of the bullets.”
The suspect was a former student at the school, and managed to temporarily flee after the shooting by blending in with students as they ran from the building.
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The suspect was arrested miles from the school an hour after the shooting was first reported. He has since been charged with the premeditated murders of 17 people, including two school staffers. Through his now-disabled social media accounts, the suspect displayed an apparent affinity for guns and knives. One picture shows the remains of a frog he had butchered.
The suspect has not yet entered a plea and is due to make a court appearance Thursday.
After she heard the first two shots, Grady said the gunman targeted her classroom almost immediately.
“He shot quite a few bullets into the glass and it hit a few people behind me,” Grady said. “It was intense.”
Before the gunfire, Grady’s friend told her “Grab a book, grab a book.”
The girl “held it up” in front of her, and said “I believe maybe the book kind of deterred some of the bullets so they didn’t hit me so badly.”
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Despite the danger she was facing, Grady was calm enough to call 911 during Wednesday’s massacre.
After managing to flee the school, Grady told Today she ducked behind a truck and collected herself before calling her parents.
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“I calmed down and called my parents so they wouldn’t worry,” she explained, adding she told them which hospital she was on her way to. They met her there, walking into her hospital room relieved.
“They walked in and my dad was really worried,” she said. “It was etched all over his face.”
Her mother “was bawling,” said Grady. “It was pretty scary for both of them.”