JROTC Student Used Kevlar to Shield Dozens in Florida

17-year-old led fellow students to safer room
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 16, 2018 2:10 AM CST
Updated Feb 16, 2018 6:49 AM CST
People attend a candlelight vigil for the victims of the Wednesday shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, in Parkland, Fla., Thursday, Feb. 15, 2018.   (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
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(Newser) – A Junior ROTC student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School says that when he heard gunshots Wednesday, his first thought was to get as many students to safety as possible. Colton Haab, 17, says he brought around 30 classmates to another room where an instructor was present. Haab and the instructor, First Sgt. David Navarra, then helped conceal a total of around 90 students behind bulletproof Kevlar sheets used in markmanship training. "We took those sheets, and we put them in front of everybody so they weren't seen, because they were behind a solid object and the Kevlar would slow the bullet down," Haab tells CNN. "I didn't think it was going to stop it, but it would definitely slow it down to make it from a catastrophic to a lifesaving thing."

Haab called a retired police officer he knows, who gave him and Navarra advice. The students armed themselves with all they could find, a two-by-four and a fire extinguisher, but gunman Nikolas Cruz never tried to enter the room. Another JROTC student who wasn't in the room, 14-year-old Alaina Petty, was among the 17 people killed in the mass shooting. "Honestly, I wish I could have saved more people," Haab tells the Sun Sentinel. "I wish we could have gotten more people in the classroom." He says he saw football coach Aaron Feis, who was killed trying to shield students, run toward the sound of gunfire. "That's Coach Feis," Haab says. "He wants to make sure everybody is safe before himself." Cruz was reportedly a JROTC student as a freshman, and may have been wearing a JROTC shirt during the rampage. (Read more Parkland school shooting stories.)

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