“I played against that school growing up,” Swarzak said Thursday morning. “My sister went to that school. I had two cousins that graduated from that school. My heart, it aches for those families, for all of Broward County, for the United States. This is a sad time that we’re are living in. We all have to find a way to rise above it. Love conquers all. It really does. It’s a really sad thing.”
Swarzak, 32, was born in Fort Lauderdale, grew up in Broward County and graduated from Nova High School in Davie. While his sister is five years older than him, Swarzak’s cousins graduated from Douglas “four or five years ago.”
“It could have been anybody,” Swarzak said. “It could have been any school. From all the facts coming out, this guy (suspect Nikolas Cruz), he was on their radar. They knew what was going on, and unfortunately he played the system.
“I think that when stuff like this happens, you start to think, ‘It’s never going to happen here.’ Unfortunately, we are in the day and age a lot of conspiracy stuff. Nobody knows what’s real or fake or blah, blah, blah. But when it happens so close to home and your phone’s getting text messages and phone calls of people actually involved and affected by this, it’s a scary, scary thing.”
Mets prospect Luis Guillorme graduated from Coral Spring Charter School and also played against Douglas High School.
“It was tough,” Guillorme said. “I was actually sleeping, woke up from a nap and saw all that. My dad texted me, too. It’s kind of crazy to see that, especially that close to home.
“You’ve seen it (shootings) before, but it once it gets close to your place — that place is 20 minutes from where I went to school — it’s rough what’s going on down there.”
Swarzak said he would do what he could to help the family of Aaron Feis, the Douglas assistant football coach and security guard who died after being shot while shielding students from bullets.
“From what I heard, he was one of those coaches that really did everything he could for every person he came across, every student he tried to mentor and tried to help grow as an adult and a man,” Swarzak said. “It’s not a coincidence that that type of guy is the person that pays the ultimate sacrifice because clearly they have been willing to sacrifice their time and effort to make everybody better. When that type of situations happens it’s those type of people who are running toward the action. I want his family to know we’re all thinking about them and if there is anything anybody needs, they can reach out. Absolutely.”