It was a tragedy that is rocking the nation. A school is supposed to be a safe place, a place for children to learn and socialize and play sports. It is not a place to die.
A lone teenage gunman entered Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. When he left there would be 17 dead and 15 injured.
It is difficult to understand how this could happen. But in the horror that surrounded the school, stories of heroes emerged — heroes from unexpected places.
Scott Beigel, 35, taught geography at the high school. He was loved by all of his students and described as a kind man who would put himself before others.
Unknown to all his students — and himself — that selflessness would end up saving the lives of his students.
Nikolas Cruz, 19, pulled the fire alarm as a distraction. Students exited their classrooms and flooded the hallways, and Cruz began to shoot.
As the students began to see what was going on, they searched for refuge. Beigel, thinking only of his students, led them into his classroom.
As they hid behind his desk, he went to lock the door. Tragically, he was shot as Cruz passed by.
Students were stunned and panicked. “Someone said, Mr. Beigel is not moving. He is laying in the doorway, but he is not moving,” said student Kelsey Friend who was in the room.
In a bold statement she added, “I am alive today because of him.”
Though Beigel’s death was senseless, he is being remembered as a real hero.
“He died the same way he lived — he put himself second. He was a very kind soul, a very nice man. He died a hero,” said school spokesman Denise Lehtio. Students were overcome with sadness.
Beigel was not only a teacher. He spent his summers teaching at Starlight Summer camp. He mentored senior boys, showing through his actions what a good role model should be.
Addressing Beigel’s family, Friend said, “Thank you for bringing and having this amazing person in life and giving him the power to be stronger than I could have ever been.” She was overcome with grief.
Facebook has been flooded with kind words and tributes to the teacher who had only worked at the school this year. It is a tragedy that touches us all.
Through the unbelievable violent acts of one person and the horror and shock of a community, comes the story of a hero. Thank God he was willing to make a difficult decision when it counted most.
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