"It was the scariest thing ever," said the mother of one boy who was inside of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School when shots were fired Wednesday afternoon.
"All I could hear was him yelling, 'There's a shooting at school mom, there's a shooting at school.' So I just told him 'Run baby, run, run run, run."
There are at least 17 fatalities and more who were wounded in the shooting, Broward County officials said. A suspect, a 19-year-old former student, was taken into custody after leaving the school, apparently concealing himself among students who evacuated.
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Parents spoke to NBC 6 to describe the chaotic and frightening situation.
"I felt panicked and helpless. There's nothing you could do. Your kid is running for his life and there's nothing you can do. And just hearing him panicking on the phone was -- I hope nobody has to go through that," said Natalie, the mother of a boy in school.
Caesar Figueroa says he was one of the first parents to arrive at the school in Parkland. He says he saw police officers bringing out big weapons as they approached the school.
Figueroa’s office is only five minutes from the school where he sends his 16-year-old daughter.
“My wife called me that there was an active shooter and the school was on lockdown. I got on the road and saw helicopters, police with machine guns. It was crazy and my daughter wasn’t answering her phone.”
According to Figueroa, she texted him that she was hidden inside a closet at school with friends: “She was in a classroom and she heard gunshots by the window. She and her friends ran into the closet.”
Students say they heard a fire alarm. Once they evacuated the classroom, that's when they heard gunshots.
"The fire alarm went off. Everybody was going outside like a regular fire drill. And then all of a sudden, I heard two gunshots and then I just see a whole bunch of people start running in my direction," said a student inside the school.
The student added, "All the administrators and teachers just told us to start running. So I was just running wherever and I was just following the crowd.
"At first, I thought it was just someone who pulled the fire alarm and then I actually got scared, like, there's actually a shooter and people are dying. And I got scared."
He began to get emotional as he spoke to NBC 6's Ari Odzer. "I'm glad that I'm alive, but also makes me really sad."
Zack Gordon, a junior at the high school, said people thought the shooting was a joke, then fell into shock when the reality set in.
"We kept hearing shots, we don't know what's happening," Gordon said. "We don't know what's going on. We just have to go. No one else knew, everyone was just in shock. People thought it was a joke at first, and it really wasn't."
In all the chaos, students still managed to find time to help each other.
"People were recording stuff on Snapchat, and I was like, 'Everyone just keep going,'" Gordon added. "There was people who needed help. I was helping people get over the fence. Something you would never expect to happen. It's just a crazy, crazy moment. We were just trying to help everyone. We're all in this together."
"I pray for every single kid that got hurt. I just hope everyone is OK," said Gordon. "I go to school with these kids every day, I would never want to see anyone get hurt. I still can't believe this happened. I still can't believe I got out. I'm just blessed that I was able to get out."