A teacher hailed as a hero for his actions during the Florida school shooting is “nothing but a coward,” according to one of his students.
Following the attack at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Jim Gard said he had ushered students to safety. One headline read, “Teacher protected students during Florida school shooting.”
But a lengthy Twitter post by Joshua Gallagher, who claims to be a junior in Gard’s class, disputed the teacher’s version of events.
In the tweet, Gallagher said he heard the fire alarm and, believing it was a drill, left the classroom with other students. But when they reached the stairs, he heard bullets and turned to run back to the classroom – but the door was locked.
As the sounds of bullets and screams echoed in his ears, another teacher eventually ushered him and other students into a classroom.
“Hours and days after the shooting I came to found out [sic] my Math teacher Jim Gard actually ran back into the classroom without turning around and locked his door,” he wrote on Twitter. “He left 75% of his students out in the hallway to be slaughtered. How can a man such as him be viewed as a hero in the media?”
He branded Gard an “opportunist” who called news stations during the attack to detail what was happening, rather than “attempting or even thinking to save kids he left in the hall!”
“He is nothing but a coward,” Gallagher added. “He has re-victimized the students he left out of his class by calling himself a hero.”
In an interview with Inside Edition last week, Gard said he and his students initially thought it was a drill and evacuated the classroom. But when they heard a “code red” announcement, they realized there was an active shooter on campus.
“I yelled, ‘Get back in the classroom!’ so five girls and a guy came back in right away,” he said. “All the other kids I had, which were about 13 more additional who had already… they were gone. They were nowhere to be found.”
He continued, “So I looked left and right and it’s been about 10, 12 seconds looking around. There was nobody around so I closed the door, turned all the lights out.”
Security expert Steve Kardian told Inside Edition that he believes the teacher acted properly. He said that the policy at most schools is to keep the door locked during a shooting.
“Once it’s closed, once you’re sheltered, you don’t go near the door. You don’t open the door,” he said. “It’s a hard decision for a teacher to make, to not open that door, but the rule is, shut the door, leave it shut until the authorities come and you open it.”
Indeed, another teacher told NBC News that it was school policy to keep the door shut. She said she went against this to pull students inside.
Technology exists that locks all doors within a school with a single button. It also sends a message to whiteboards in classrooms that the school is on lockdown.
The system, designed by Intralogic Solutions, has been installed at Plainedge High School in Massapequa, N.Y.