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Student journalist interviewed classmates as shooter walked Parkland school halls

David Hogg found himself living a nightmare on Wednesday, hiding in a closet with classmates as a crazed gunman roame...

Posted: Feb 18, 2018 5:18 PM
Updated: Feb 18, 2018 5:18 PM

David Hogg found himself living a nightmare on Wednesday, hiding in a closet with classmates as a crazed gunman roamed the campus of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, unleashing a torrent of bullets on students and teachers.

Huddled in the dark, trying to keep quiet to avoid the gunman, students called their parents to tell them in hushed voices that they loved them.

"That's kind of around the same time that I just had to pull out my phone," Hogg, a 17-year-old student journalist, told CNN in a phone interview Friday.

"It was sheer terror," Hogg said of that moment, but he quickly recognized it as one that needed documenting -- if not for him to report, then for survivors and lawmakers to understand how desperately the country needs to implement reforms to prevent yet another mass shooting.

He started interviewing those closest to him in the cramped space, who told him how terrified they felt.

"I want to show these people exactly what's going on when these children are facing bullets flying through classrooms and students are dying trying to get an education," he told CNN's Alisyn Camerota on Thursday. "That's not OK, and that's not acceptable and we need to fix that."

'How do you tell a story like this?'

When Hogg took out his phone Wednesday afternoon and started filming, he only had one thought in mind: "Tell the story."

None of the people in the room knew whether they were going to live. But in case they didn't, Hogg wanted the public and lawmakers across the country to know what it was like to be a high school student, hiding from a school shooter in a dark classroom closet.

"If I was going to die, I wanted to die doing what I love, and that's storytelling," he told CNN. "And this is a story that needed to be heard. ... At least our echoes, our voices would carry on and possibly make some action."

Before the shooting was over, the gunman, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, had claimed the lives of three staff members and 14 students -- among them, some of Hogg's little sister's best friends. Cruz faces 17 counts of premeditated murder.

When the school finally reopens and students return to fill the halls, Hogg and his peers will be responsible for covering what will probably be the biggest story ever to happen at Marjory Stoneman Douglas.

"Honestly, at this point, I don't know if I have the journalistic quality to give it as much as it needs," he said. "How do you tell a story like this?"

Read more: There have been 8 school shootings in 2018. And it's only February

But today, Hogg isn't thinking about that. He and many other students-turned-survivors are focused on making sure that the shooting at their school -- the ninth-deadliest mass shooting in modern US history -- doesn't become history without being a catalyst for change.

"It's a midterm year and it's time to take action," Hogg said. "I don't care if you're a Democrat. I don't care if you're a Republican. Stand up for what you believe in. Let's make some compromises and save some children's lives."

Journalism is his 'passion'

Hogg, whose family is originally from California, loves broadcast journalism. Notably polished and media-savvy, he's appeared on several news networks and in numerous articles since Wednesday, calling for "action" from politicians in Washington and in state capitols across the country.

He's been watching "60 Minutes" on CBS "basically since second grade," he told CNN, and has always been fascinated by current events.

When Hogg's family moved to Florida several years ago, they chose Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in part for the different activities and programs it offered, one of which is TV production.

"When I started there freshman year, halfway through, I knew that I really liked it," Hogg said. "I liked the environment."

During the first year in the program, students take notes about production techniques and the different assignments and roles in a television studio, Hogg said. When they become sophomores, the students get the opportunity to produce TV broadcasts.

"I made some god-awful packages, I'll tell you what," he said. But as he advanced and learned more, the class became more than a grade to him. "It's my passion."

In the past year, Hogg's interest in journalism has grown stronger. His AP US History class recently learned about the Pentagon Papers and the role journalists -- "the fourth check on the government," he said -- play in the United States.

"They essentially inform people of what's going on, and arguably that's one of the most important things for any functioning democracy," he said.

Over the past several days, Hogg has gotten a close look at the lives of professional journalists and spoken with many of them as they set up for live shots outside the high school, but he wishes he'd made those connections under different circumstances.

"I wish I could meet them and get known not from a story about an active shooter that shouldn't have even happened," he said. "I wish I could have met them through just my hard work as a journalist."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 69374

Reported Deaths: 1989
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds5700119
DeSoto371031
Harrison260136
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Forrest182656
Washington170142
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Smith40613
Hancock40214
Clay40114
Jasper3949
Itawamba38710
Tippah37414
Tunica3587
Clarke33626
Montgomery3295
Lawrence3238
Yalobusha31610
Humphreys29712
Quitman2691
Carroll26111
Greene25612
Perry2428
Amite2376
Webster23712
Kemper23314
Jefferson Davis2336
Wilkinson21513
Stone2115
Sharkey2045
Jefferson1957
Benton1451
Choctaw1354
Franklin1312
Issaquena272
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 100801

Reported Deaths: 1814
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson13366246
Mobile10581212
Montgomery6825151
Madison546934
Tuscaloosa426979
Unassigned392566
Baldwin367029
Shelby333437
Marshall319438
Lee270847
Morgan241819
Etowah218034
DeKalb183414
Calhoun181918
Elmore176039
Walker154465
Houston142813
Russell13892
St. Clair136320
Limestone135913
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Franklin129722
Cullman123012
Colbert121517
Lauderdale119020
Autauga116222
Escambia108817
Talladega105414
Jackson10264
Tallapoosa87579
Chambers84738
Dale84329
Clarke82610
Chilton8189
Blount8165
Butler77036
Coffee7656
Covington74021
Pike7137
Marion58226
Barbour5796
Lowndes57124
Marengo56616
Hale48526
Bullock48111
Winston45711
Perry4454
Bibb4445
Washington44412
Wilcox43410
Monroe4236
Pickens4089
Randolph40211
Conecuh39310
Sumter36618
Lawrence3542
Macon33914
Crenshaw3326
Choctaw28912
Cherokee2768
Clay2675
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Henry2643
Greene25211
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