Several first responders at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School during last week’s Florida school shooting are sharing their stories for the first time as they were hailed as heroes for their efforts.
Coral Springs Police Sgt. Jeff Heinrich was one of the first cops to enter the Parkland school. He was off duty and ran up to a SWAT team member to offer his help.
Sgt. Heinrich’s wife teaches at the school and his son is a student.
“By the grace of God my wife and my son who were on the opposite ends of the school — my son was out on a bathroom pass and my wife was in planning in the girls locker room — and they both heard the fire alarm and evacuated,” he said as he wiped away tears. “By the grace of God, when they walked down the hallway they found each other and they were able to shelter in place with 2 other teachers and 62 other students.”
Firefighters, paramedics, and other officers, including Tim Burton and Chris Crawford, were also with Heinrich Friday at a press conference.
Officer Burton, a 12-year veteran, was headed toward the school but encountered some traffic, so he grabbed his rifle and started running toward the scene. As he was running to the school, a security guard spotted him in a golf cart and gave him a lift to the area.
“This security guard in the golf cart was just a Godsend,” Burton said.
He provided cover for four other officers who went inside the school to locate the shooter. Later, Burton was asked to join a search team where he located 50 to 100 students huddled inside the band room.
“This one’s pretty tough,” Burton said. “You can’t get rid of this one. This will be with me forever.”
Officer Crawford was on patrol when he received a call about the shooting. When he got to the campus, cops were already there. He helped clear the parking lot and check on the injured.
He tended to a teenage boy who was shot multiple times, as well as a young girl who had less severe injuries.
Crawford later ran into the building, where he found a group of students hiding in the storage area. He rallied teachers and students together so they could call loved ones and waited with them, providing comfort and protection until a SWAT team arrived.
“I helped one kid or two kids,” Crawford told the press. “I wish I could have helped them all.”