Early on Wednesday afternoon, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, in Parkland, Florida, had a fire drill, an eleventh-grader named Gabriella Figueroa told MSNBC’s Brian Williams. “Then we heard gunshots,” Figueroa said. “Then it went to code red. And then it was crazy.”
An individual with deadly intent was in the school building, holding an assault weapon that was designed for fighting wars. As Figueroa’s use of the term “code red” indicated, such an event is no longer considered an aberration. All across the country, school boards drill their teachers and students in how to respond to such an emergency. Code yellow: turn cell phones to silent, return to the classroom, and follow the teacher’s instructions. Code red: find a secure area immediately, lock the door, close the blinds, turn off the lights, do not move.
This lockdown wasn’t a drill, of course. By the time it was over, seventeen people had been shot dead, and more than a dozen had been wounded. “Bodies were lying in the hallway,” another eyewitness told Fox News. “People were killed in the hallway.” Police later identified the suspected killer as Nikolas Cruz, a nineteen-year-old former student who had been expelled for discipline problems.