Stacey Lippel, a creative writing teacher at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL is opening up about the moment a suspected shooter attacked the school on Valentine’s Day last week.
Lippel talked to “Good Morning America” on Tuesday and described what she heard before breaking down in tears in front of the cameras.
“I was about two feet away from my [classroom] door and all the sudden I heard gunshots in the stairwell which is about 20 feet away from my room,” she said. “And, then kids were screaming and running back towards me and back towards the end of the hallway.”
Lippel said that she went into “autopilot” and opened the door to usher students into her classroom. During the chaos, she said she saw the shooter standing at the end of the hallway, shooting a “barrage of bullets” down the hall.
“I’m staring at him thinking, ‘why is the police here? This is strange.’ Because he was in full metal garb. Helmet, face mask, bulletproof amour, shooting this rifle that I have never seen before,” she said. Lippel was hit in the arm with a bullet when she tried closing the door. She yelled at teacher Scott Beigel to shut her door. The shooter shot into Beigel’s room and then turned to her classroom, breaking a glass window on the door. Beigel was one of the 17 victims.
Lippel said that she held tightly to her students until the SWAT team arrived nearly 45 minutes later.
“I still didn’t trust that it was them,” she said, adding that the SWAT team let themselves in to rescue all of the people in the room. When she was exiting her classroom, Lippel saw Beigel and two of her students dead outside. “I lost two students and saw other bodies and carnage everywhere. … It was like from a movie.”
Lippel, who described herself as a having “stoic” personality, cried when she recalled seeing her two students dead at the school.
“It’s hard to live with because I love them so much like they were my kids,” she said. “It’s heartbreaking.”
A week later, Lippel said she is trying to move on like many other students and faculty at the school.
“We are left here on the planet for a reason so let’s do what we are supposed to do and if we are not sure what that is, we will figure it out,” she said. “But, we are alive.”