Heartbreaking texts, sent between two brothers as they hid from a gunman at their school in Florida, have been published on social media.
18-year-old Sam Zeif, shared the text messages he exchanged with his younger brother, 14-year-old Matthew, who was in a different class in the school when Nikolas Cruz, 19, allegedly fired bullets at students and teachers.
Shortly after the shooting started, Sam sent Matthew a text message asking: ‘Are you okay?’.
Scariest part of it all was knowing my little brother was right above me and not knowing if I would ever see him again. I’ve never really treated him the way he deserved. Not anymore. Seeing his face outside of school was the most relief I had ever felt. My prayers to all. pic.twitter.com/Iq8CHVNXd0
— Uncle Sam Zeif #Douglasstrong (@SzZeif) February 15, 2018
‘Hopefully,’ Matthew responded. ‘Just know, I love you forever and your the best brother.’ [sic]
‘We’re gonna get out of here I promise,’ Sam replied.
Just seconds before the messages, Matthew had witnessed his geography teacher, Scott Beigel, die in front of the class.
The boys’ mum, Jennifer, told the New York Times her younger son was the last person Mr Beigel had ushered into his classroom before he was shot dead.
Mr Beigel could have passed Matthew up and gone in the classroom first.
In that case, Matthew would have been the one in the doorway.
Matthew was then forced to watch the beloved teacher bleed out on the floor.
The school shooting is the 18th such shooting in 2018 so far and is the eighth deadliest mass shooting in contemporary US history.
That’s 18 in 44 days. It’s the eighth school shooting to have resulted in death or injury in those seven weeks.
The shooting marks the second-greatest loss of life from a shooting at a US public school, after the 2012 massacre of 20 students and six teachers at Sandy Hook elementary in Connecticut.
It surpasses the 1999 rampage at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, where two teenagers killed 12 students and a teacher before taking their own lives.
Authorities identified the suspect as 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, a former student who’d been expelled for disciplinary reasons.
Broward County Sheriff, Scott Israel, said Cruz was believed to have one AR-15 rifle and multiple magazines in his arsenal.
Officials have not yet identified a motive for the shooting, but the teenager has been charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder.
Research analysing mass shootings in 11 countries, covering the period from 2000-14, found the United States has more mass shootings – and more people cumulatively killed or injured – than Australia, Canada, China, England, Finland, France, Germany, Mexico, Norway and Switzerland combined.
The emotional impact of school shootings has sparked a booming school safety industry, reports The Guardian.
If you’re experiencing distressing thoughts and feelings, the Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) is there to support you from 5pm–midnight, 365 days a year.
Their national number is 0800 58 58 58 and they also have a webchat service if you’re not comfortable talking on the phone.