NewsMar 05, 2018 by Alyssa Duvall
Two students of Jim Gard, a Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School math teacher praised as a hero after the shooting in Parkland, Florida last month, have taken to social media to call Gard out as a "coward" who left them locked out in the hallway to die as shooter Nikolas Cruz terrorized the school.
While Gard was initially lauded for protecting a handful of students in his locked classroom, Josh Gallagher and Connor Dietrich described Gard as someone who "called himself a hero, and ... the media portrayed him as a hero when in reality he is the opposite."
Gallagher was in Gard's class when the fire alarm went off, a tactic later revealed by Cruz to ensure the maximum amount of potential victims in the hallways. Gard's students began filing out of the room until they heard gunshots. About 15 of them froze for a moment before racing back to their classroom, only to find that Gard had locked them out and knowingly refused to allow them to re-enter.
"As one of the kids left in the hallway, I want people to understand how terrifying and defenseless I personally felt," Dietrich tweeted. "The person I had to rely on left us to die and that’s not okay."
For his part, Gard responded with shock at the accusations of any wrongdoing. According to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, only six students followed him back to class and he followed protocol that required him to keep classroom doors locked during an active shooter drill or real emergency.
“I looked back down the hall and no one was around — no one,” he said. “You have to close the door. That’s protocol. We have no choice."
He said he and the six students were huddled in the dark when they heard pounding on the door, presumably Dietrich, Gallagher, and the remaining students. Gard reported going over to the door, but reminded the Sun-Sentinel that protocol prohibited him from opening it.
“Fast forward to Sunday, when the parents came back for an open house,” Gard added. “All of a sudden this kid comes over and starts screaming at me. Then his father started screaming at me. This is insane.”
“I’m not going to sensationalize this even like my teacher did,” Gallagher said in a Twitter message to the Sun-Sentinel, referring to interviews Gard granted reporters after the shooting and the policies which allowed for this situation to unfold. “I want change to happen when it comes to protocol and the way this situation is handled. No child can feel the way I did.”
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