Students brought out of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School after a gunman killed 17 Wednesday. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
BOSTON (WBZ-AM) -- An assistant dean from Nichols College in Dudley was visiting Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida Wednesday on a recruiting trip Wednesday afternoon when a gunman opened fire in the school, killing 17.
Paul Brower, the school's Assistant Dean of Admissions, spoke to WBZ NewsRadio 1030's Ben Parker about the shooting and its aftermath--an experience he called "beyond words."
Brower was visiting the high school to discuss Nichols College and the football recruiting process, and was in the coaches' office in the back side of the school when the shooting began.
"Initially there was a fire alarm, and it was odd, because it was a very brief fire alarm, because it only lasted a few seconds," he said. "So we looked at each other, started talking again."
"About 30 seconds later, they called a Code Red over the loudspeaker twice. We're all kind of looking at each other, and one of the young men commented that it sounded like there was a lot of concern in the person's voice ... that this wasn't a drill."
Nichols College Assistant Dean of Admissions Paul Brower. (Courtesy photo/Nichols College)
He said that's when they had an idea that something big was happening, but they didn't know what. They waited, locked in the office, until they heard shots.
"A few minutes later, one of the football guys opened the door to the side room next to the office and came kind of running back in," Brower said. "That was when we could most actively hear shots. You could hear some deafening noise. Didn't know what it was or how close, but we definitely knew there were shots, or some kind of explosion."
He said the students they were with began getting text messages from other students at the school.
"At first it was, 'Are you OK? Where are you?'" he said. "Moments later, it started to be more of, uh, images of the atrocities that had taken place."
He said they waited in the office for more than a few hours before they were escorted out by police, and then stayed with several students they had been locked in with until their parents picked them up.
Brower said the hardest part was seeing students and teachers outside the school running into each other and sharing news about their friends and teachers who had been shot.
"The young men we were with learned that one of their coaches was among the dead," he said. "Seeing these guys go through something like that, you just really feel for them. It was pretty surreal."
Listen to Ben Parker's full interview with Brower below: