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: 352891

Reported Deaths: 7597
CountyCasesDeaths
Hinds24704451
DeSoto23619283
Harrison21395335
Jackson15984255
Rankin15957294
Madison11224227
Lee10952180
Jones9316171
Forrest9136163
Lauderdale8211244
Lamar736590
Lowndes7253152
Lafayette6658125
Washington5681140
Pearl River5396155
Oktibbeha506598
Bolivar5022134
Warren4828128
Panola4823112
Marshall4759106
Pontotoc455773
Neshoba4487181
Hancock444488
Union441479
Monroe4390138
Lincoln4247116
Pike3771114
Leflore3696125
Alcorn362474
Tate356188
Sunflower351794
Adams350690
Scott349177
Yazoo344877
Copiah333569
Simpson329191
Itawamba318581
Tippah316569
Coahoma316385
Covington305584
Prentiss304163
Leake291976
Marion291882
George285851
Wayne282345
Grenada272488
Newton269264
Tishomingo241670
Stone240038
Winston238484
Jasper236248
Attala229974
Chickasaw222760
Clay204654
Holmes204374
Clarke190480
Tallahatchie185842
Smith184936
Calhoun184632
Yalobusha174241
Walthall151249
Lawrence146426
Greene144735
Amite140144
Noxubee137635
Perry137038
Montgomery134644
Carroll127531
Webster125132
Jefferson Davis121334
Tunica116627
Benton108425
Claiborne106131
Kemper105029
Humphreys102533
Franklin88724
Quitman86819
Choctaw83619
Wilkinson79632
Jefferson72328
Sharkey52018
Issaquena1746
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 595816

Reported Deaths: 11561
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson865251591
Mobile50436872
Madison37905534
Shelby27652260
Tuscaloosa27422465
Montgomery26428628
Baldwin26175329
Lee17414181
Calhoun15549334
Morgan15265291
Etowah15106372
Marshall13248236
Houston12297294
Elmore11006220
St. Clair10903252
Limestone10867158
Cullman10643206
Lauderdale10374255
DeKalb9603193
Talladega9032188
Walker7873288
Autauga7635114
Blount7463140
Jackson7450117
Colbert6780142
Coffee6515132
Dale5803117
Covington4864125
Russell483543
Chilton4828117
Franklin465681
Tallapoosa4591156
Escambia457583
Chambers4007125
Dallas3756164
Clarke374663
Marion3490107
Pike336979
Lawrence3280100
Winston301973
Bibb293766
Geneva293083
Marengo263867
Barbour254361
Pickens247962
Butler243672
Hale236979
Fayette228565
Henry218845
Monroe206941
Randolph203844
Cherokee201748
Washington189439
Macon172252
Crenshaw171758
Clay167659
Cleburne161845
Lamar152638
Lowndes146555
Wilcox132731
Bullock126542
Conecuh123032
Coosa119729
Perry111228
Sumter110933
Greene99937
Choctaw64525
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