Parkland, FL – Two students who survived the Florida school shooting in February are criticizing a teacher who was described as a hero during the rampage for locking them out of his classroom.
Math teacher Jim Gard was credited for protecting students in his classroom during the shooting Feb. 14 when a teen gunman shot and killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, according to USA Today.
Students Josh Gallagher and Connor Dietrich said Gard had locked the door to his room and refused to open it for about 15 students who were in the hallway.
Gallagher said Gard “called himself a hero, and … the media portrayed him as a hero when in reality he is the opposite,” according to USA Today.
Gallagher said he was in Gard’s class when the fire alarm went off. The students left the classroom. When the students heard gunshots, about 15 of them froze and then tried to rush back to the classroom.
The students say that Gard had locked the door and refused to let them in.
“We were stuck in the hall for four total minutes, ducking and in fear for our lives” Gallagher said. He said another teacher that Gallagher didn’t recognize let them them in another classroom.
Gallagher said Gard “left 75 percent of his students out in the hallway to be slaughtered,” according to USA Today.
“He is nothing but a coward,” Gallagher said. “He has revictimized the students he left out of his class by calling himself a hero.”
Gard gave a phone interview with CBS Miami while still locked in his classroom with some of his students that was less than two hours after the shooting. They were waiting for the police to say they could exit the classroom.
Student Connor Dietrich was also critical of Gard on Twitter.
“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.”
Gard told the Orlando Sun-Sentinel that 13 students had lagged behind during a fire drill and were locked outside his classroom. He said all those students found shelter elsewhere and survived the shooting.
“I looked back down the hall and no one was around — no one,” Gard said. “You have to close the door. That’s protocol. We have no choice.”
The Orlando Sun-Sentinel said it was established policy for teachers to keep the door locked during shootings, “according to teachers well-versed on procedure.”