Two students who survived the horrific shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., are now saying that one teacher who has been hailed as a hero for saving students during the rampage was actually a coward who left them to die by locking them out of a classroom.
As USA Today notes, Jim Gard, a math teacher at the high school, was credited with protecting students in his classroom during the Feb. 14 massacre. However, in recent days, students Josh Gallagher and Connor Dietrich are refuting that narrative, both expressing disgust toward Gard on Twitter.
On Twitter, Gallagher wrote that Gard “called himself a hero, and ... the media portrayed him as a hero when in reality he is the opposite.”
Gallagher said that he was in Gard’s class when the fire alarm went off and students started filing out. Then they heard gunshots, and about 15 of them stopped in their tracks before running back toward the classroom. At that point, however, Gard locked the door and refused to let them back in, Gallagher said.
“We were stuck in the hall for four total minutes, ducking and in fear for our lives,” Gallagher wrote. He said that another teacher eventually let him and the other students into another classroom, but the teen said that Gard “left 75% of his students out in the hallway to be slaughtered.”
Gard, for his part, did a phone interview with CBS Miami while he and some of the students were still sheltered in his classroom, less than two hours after the shooting, awaiting the all-clear from police.
Gallagher pointed out that the teacher had been interviewed by multiple media outlets as a hero.
“He is nothing but a coward,” Gallagher said. “He has revictimized the students he left out of his class by calling himself a hero.”
Dietrich, who was one of the kids left in the hallway, told a similar story.
“As one of the kids left in the hallway I want people to understand how terrifying and defenseless I personally felt,” he tweeted. “The person I had to rely on left us to die and that’s not okay.”
Gard, meanwhile, said that he was just following protocol that mandated all doors be kept locked during an active-shooter drill or real-life emergency. He told the Sun-Sentinel that he was surprised that a student and his father were upset after the fact.
“I looked back down the hall and no one was around—no one,” Gard said, acknowledging that 13 students had lagged behind and had wound up being locked out. “You have to close the door. That’s protocol. We have no choice.”
Gard said that he and the students who had gotten into the classroom were huddled in the dark by the desk when they heard loud banging on the door. He said that by the time he walked over to the door (an action he said was also prohibited), the banging had stopped.
“Fast-forward to Sunday, when the parents came back for an open house,” he added. “All of a sudden, this kid comes over and starts screaming at me. Then his father started screaming at me. This is insane.”