A student left outside his classroom while a gunman roamed the halls of his Parkland high school slammed his teacher as “nothing but a coward” for locking him and more than a dozen fellow classmates out of the room.
In wake of the brutal attack at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, math teacher Matt Gard made headlines for protecting his students. But junior Joshua Gallagher, who said he was in class with Gard in the moments leading up to the shooting, claimed his teacher abandoned him amid the emergency situation.
In a lengthy tweet shared earlier this week, Gallagher accused Gard of leaving “75% of his students out in the hallway to be slaughtered.”
Students in Gard’s class began to file out of their classroom when they heard the school’s fire alarm to go off for the second time that Valentine’s Day morning. They had made it about 20 feet, to a nearby staircase, by the time they started hearing gunfire and screams coming from another part of the building.
In what he described as an “instant rush,” Gallagher and his classmates hurried back to the classroom only to find the door had already been locked.
The student said he and 15 classmates were left in the hall, “ducking as the screams of classmates and gunshots took over.”
“We were stuck in the hall for a total of four minutes ducking and in fear of our lives,” Gallagher wrote. “I called my dad up on the phone thinking this could be the last time I speak to him.”
Gard, of Pompano Beach, told the Sun Sentinel he was surprised to learn Gallagher and his father — an officer who responded to the school shooting — were upset by his response.
He said a dozen or so of his students were nowhere in sight when he closed the door, and he made the difficult choice to secure his classroom as the chaos unfolded.
“I looked back down the hall and no one was around — no one,” he told the newspaper. “You have to close the door. That’s protocol. We have no choice.”
Another teacher and security experts have said Gard acted appropriately in the situation.
Gallagher continued on to say another teacher he’d never seen opened their door to allow him and his classmates inside. He noted Gard had appeared “on many news stations” after the shooting and slammed him as an “opportunist.”
“He has re-victimized the students he left out of his class by calling himself a hero,” Gallagher concluded.
“I have nightmares at (what) could have happened because of how selfish and horrific this man is.”
Gard recalled how he and his students huddled in the dark classroom when they heard a bang on the door.
“I told the kids we can’t let anyone in,” he said. “We had no idea if it was a drill or not. By the time I walked over to the door, the banging had stopped. I didn’t hear any yelling.
“If there were 13 kids outside the door screaming and banging I would have heard them.”
Nikolas Cruz, a former student at the Parkland high school, is accused of killing 17 people and injuring more than a dozen others in the bloody shooting spree. All of the students left outside Gard’s classroom managed to survive the attack.
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