Florida ElderLawAnswers member attorney Howard S. Krooks was at work on February 14 when he received a text from his son, Noah, a ninth-grader at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
“Dad, I think there is a shooter at the school I’m in.” “I think it’s real.”
In a gripping op-ed published in the Sun-Sentinel, a daily newspaper in Broward County, Krooks records his exchanges with Noah, who was texting him from under a desk in a classroom across the hall from the shooter. The article also recounts Krooks’s own powerful emotional response to what Noah was telling him. “What if I stop receiving texts from him?,” Krooks asks himself at one point.
It turns out that Noah was in the first classroom on the left that the killer passed on his way into the building. For reasons unknown, the shooter skipped that classroom and chose others to attack. One was the second classroom on the right, where Noah’s close friend Alex was killed.
After relating the first-hand account of the shooting, Krooks, who is a former president of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, describes the tragedy’s impact on his family, and implores lawmakers to take the necessary steps so that parents don’t have to continue sending their children into potential killing zones. “Legislators, are you listening? Take this tragedy and use it to pass legislation that addresses the combined problems of mental illness and possession of weapons.”
Krooks ends with an apology to those affected by all past school shootings. “My heart went out to them during those times, but it wasn’t until it hit me in my own home, my own backyard and my own children were affected, that I took the time to write this plea to our lawmakers seeking to effectuate change. I hope you can forgive me for that.”