Lorena Sanabria, a student at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL, shared the traumatic experience she endured during the Feb. 14 shooting that left 17. The teen spoke to Univision Noticias on Feb. 15 about the terror she felt when 19-year-old alleged gunman Nikolas Cruz opened fire on the school.
“We were all desperate, we were all crying. We were on our phones trying to stay in touch with our families and read the news,” the teen said. She called her mom, Lorena Hernandez, to tell her what was going on. “I heard the gun shots. My daughter was talking to me and I was hearing the gun shots,” Hernandez said.
Sanabria can’t shake the shock. “Seeing your school filled with police and hearing the helicopters is very difficult,” the teen, alongside her mother and brother Emanuel, said on Univision’s morning show Despierta América the day after the shooting.
“It’s very sad because there were moments when I had to hang up the phone with her and cut the communication because she had to run down that hallway to get to another classroom where she would be safe,” her mother recounted through tears. “While she was running to that classroom, I would see people crying and screaming, all the mothers outside [the school]. All I could do with my son was go to my car and pray, beg God for my daughter’s safety because I know she was running down the hallway and the shooter was still there. I asked all the angels to cover my daughter and protect her. I ask the Lord with all my faith to allow me the opportunity to hug my daughter. When I saw her again, I felt my soul return to my body.”
Emanuel was also affected by the tragedy: “He was scared and the only thing he would ask me is: ‘Mommy, will Lola be Ok,” Hernandez said. “He started praying and begging God for his sister’s safety.”
During the televised interview, Hernandez, Sanabria, and her little brother Emanuel all held hands. “This morning, I woke up to hear heart-breaking news,” the teen said about close friends who became victims of Cruz’s violent gun rampage.”There are also some friends in the hospital that thankfully have already left. There was a girl that I saw that morning and she had given me a Valentine’s Day present and I posted it on my social media and then I heard that she was shot. It broke my heart.”
At first, Sanabria thought all the commotion was part of a drill until she realized two of her friends had been shot. “When they finally revealed the news of who the gunman was, everyone said: ‘It’s no surprise,'” Sanabria told Univision Noticias about Cruz, a teen who had a history of mental illness and had been expelled from the high school for disciplinary reasons.
Cruz was taken into custody after Wednesday’s fatal shooting and has been charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder. School Superintendent Robert Runcie told the press that Cruz “discarded his fire arm and gear that he had on and exited the building along with students” who were fleeing. According to Runcie, Cruz took an Uber to school “around the time of dismissal,” entered the building and pulled the fire alarm to get mobs of students to exit their classrooms before he started firing.