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.

Cases: 512632

Reported Deaths: 10262
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison34853555
DeSoto33162432
Hinds32556641
Jackson24830389
Rankin22442402
Lee16238242
Madison14874283
Jones14086247
Forrest13741259
Lauderdale12249324
Lowndes11286193
Lamar10644140
Pearl River9707244
Lafayette8827143
Hancock7835132
Washington7550169
Oktibbeha7204138
Monroe6989179
Pontotoc6970109
Warren6849178
Panola6746134
Neshoba6726210
Marshall6653141
Bolivar6440151
Union633897
Pike5924156
Alcorn5862107
Lincoln5525136
George510180
Prentiss500884
Tippah490282
Itawamba4829107
Scott477499
Adams4766125
Tate4748116
Leflore4723144
Copiah455895
Yazoo455591
Simpson4543117
Wayne442772
Covington432895
Sunflower4299106
Marion4265112
Coahoma4227109
Leake413790
Newton395581
Tishomingo381793
Grenada3775109
Stone365666
Jasper340166
Attala337790
Winston317792
Chickasaw313367
Clay311878
Clarke301195
Calhoun284449
Holmes271289
Smith268952
Yalobusha243747
Tallahatchie231453
Greene224749
Walthall221366
Lawrence217840
Perry213356
Amite209557
Webster205148
Noxubee188642
Montgomery181557
Carroll174441
Jefferson Davis173643
Tunica163239
Benton152639
Kemper144941
Choctaw136527
Claiborne134238
Humphreys131139
Franklin124929
Quitman107528
Wilkinson105939
Jefferson96834
Sharkey65121
Issaquena1957
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 845108

Reported Deaths: 16115
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1161242006
Mobile741961379
Madison53291732
Shelby38328368
Baldwin38074589
Tuscaloosa36017641
Montgomery34483781
Lee25557263
Calhoun22585518
Morgan22454406
Etowah20016517
Marshall18781316
Houston17729425
St. Clair16880358
Limestone16138218
Cullman16050303
Elmore15904294
Lauderdale14984306
Talladega14191299
DeKalb12971269
Walker12029380
Blount10715192
Autauga10517157
Jackson10161194
Coffee9415192
Colbert9341208
Dale9018191
Tallapoosa7255201
Russell707865
Chilton7018170
Escambia6955143
Covington6933195
Franklin6342108
Chambers5784142
Marion5403130
Dallas5285209
Pike5118109
Clarke484986
Lawrence4826129
Winston4780110
Geneva4642136
Bibb434094
Barbour369480
Butler3434100
Marengo342393
Monroe337066
Randolph334367
Pickens333188
Fayette330085
Henry320666
Hale318389
Cherokee317763
Crenshaw260477
Washington257052
Cleburne254460
Lamar251453
Clay250869
Macon244764
Conecuh192862
Coosa185047
Lowndes178168
Wilcox177438
Bullock152645
Perry141840
Sumter139241
Greene130245
Choctaw93228
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