Stacey Lippel, a teacher who helped to save students during the Florida high school mass shooting, has come forward to share her firsthand account of the attack. Speaking with Adrienne Bankert in an interview for Good Morning America, the teacher said she had been left heartbroken over the carnage she witnessed — including the death of a fellow teacher, and two of her own students.
“I was about two feet away from my door, all of a sudden I heard gunshots in the stairwell which is about 20 feet away from my room,” she told Bankert. “Kids were screaming, and then running back towards me and towards the end of the hallway. So I just went in this very strange autopilot mode where I pivoted on my feet I unlocked my door and the kids just start pouring in my room. I don’t know how many kids were in there, but I was pulling them and getting them in and shouting at them to get in the room. And then I suddenly saw the shooter, about 20 feet from me, standing at the end of the hallway, actively shooting down the hallway. Just a barrage of bullets.”
At first, Lippel said, she looked at the shooter’s body armor, facemask, and high-powered rifle and mistook him for a policeman or SWAT team member. Before she closed her door, she said she yelled to the teacher in the neighboring room, Scott Beigel, to close his door. In an earlier interview, Kelsey Friend, a student at the school, said that Beigel saved her life and those of others by keeping his door open as long as possible.
“He’s the kind of man that would just keep that door open a little longer. He’s all about the kids. But he couldn’t see the shooter which is why I yelled to him,” Lippel recalled.
As she closed her own door, a bullet clipped her upper arm. As she huddled over the kids in the back of her classroom, she said she heard the gunman shooting into Beigel’s room. The gunman also fired into her classroom, breaking the glass window in the door. She and her students stayed there, unmoving, until police came and broke down the door because they were still unwilling to open to trust that the shooter hadn’t returned. In the hallway, Lippel said she saw Beigel’s body, the bodies of two of her students, and those of many others.
Speaking with Bankert, Lippel began to cry at the memory.
“It was the most awful sight I’ve ever seen,” Lippel said. “I’ve never had to deal with anything like this before. I mean, I’m a stoic person to begin with. I’m not the most emotional person and so when I sit and think about my two beloved students who were killed in that class, it’s hard to live with because I loved them so much — like they were my kids. I’ve known Meadow since she was a 10th grader. She took my class because she wanted to have me again. And Joachim was like a son. He called me Mom. And it’s heartbreaking.”
Watch the full interview below.
"It's hard to live with, because I loved them so much." Hero teacher, grazed by a bullet at last week's Florida school shooting speaks out to @ABonTV on colleagues and students she lost last week: https://t.co/dSWgd3EhN2 pic.twitter.com/iHLAuKvNNi
— Good Morning America (@GMA) February 21, 2018