A pair of college coaches from a Massachusetts college found themselves in the middle of a tragedy on Wednesday when their recruiting trip to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School (MSD) in Parkland, Fla., coincided with the nation’s latest mass school shooting.
As reported by Boston Fox affiliate WFXT and other local outlets, an assistant dean who doubles as a tennis coach and a football coach from Nichols College in Dudley, Mass., were both on Marjory Stoneman Douglas’ campus on Wednesday to recruit prospective students and collegiate athletes, respectively. The pair was apparently in the MSD locker room when the shooting rampage began and were forced to shelter there in place until their location was eventually cleared.
In the process, the pair witnessed the almost unthinkable as the gunman allegedly passed just below the window of the room they were in and waited anxiously as they tried to reach loved ones via their phones across an overloaded bandwidth.
“He actually crossed apparently right in front of the window we were,” Nichols College assistant dean of enrollment and tennis coach Paul Brower told WFXT. “It was interesting because there was one student that was kind of jogging away from the building that had been close to the building and everyone else was exiting through the athletic fields. It didn’t really stand out at first, but as we heard the chatter come across the radio, we’re like wow. Apparently he had dropped the gear that he was wearing and he was trying to appear more as a normal student to blend in a bit.”
That didn’t work, as expelled MSD student Nikolas Cruz was detained and is being treated as the primary suspect in the horrendous attack.
For Brower and the unnamed football coach, tension gave way to relief as they were finally cleared to leave their locked down room. That relief gave way to concern for the students they had just met with almost immediately.
“Even the students we were meeting with, are getting social media messages about friends of theirs that had been hurt,” Brower told the Fox affiliate. “… it was pretty intense for these students to go through and I certainly feel for all of them it was an incredibly challenging experience.”