Parkland survivor says Texas shooting gave him flashbacks

TEMPA, Florida (WFLA) – Heartbreak swept across the country Tuesday as Americans learned for the first time that many children had been killed in Texas, shot dead in their own classrooms.

Over the course of the afternoon, as more and more details were released, each detail was worse than the last. Law enforcement and witnesses described what they saw as painful and graphic.

The truth is incomprehensible. It just seems impossible. Endless questions posed by the public, the same questions over and over.

Why can one person do this?

As the death toll began to increase by the hour, so did the grief.

The massacre of innocent children at a Texas elementary school sent shockwaves across the country, especially in Florida, where the news reached near home.

The situation is painfully familiar.

Zaxh Hibschman knows pain all too well. He lived with it for four years. He survived the mass shooting at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School on February 14, 2018.

He was in school that day,. He heard the gunfire getting closer and closer, his heart pounding, he could hear it in his ears.

The shooting took place during Zach’s junior year of high school, and even though many years have passed, his memory is razor sharp when it comes to the terrifying chronology of that day. Countless lives will change forever, and it happens instantaneously.

Zach recalled, in vivid detail, the exact moment he heard the unmistakable sound of gunfire. They came one after another, one after the other. And, they keep coming.

“I thought I might not make it through that school to survive,” he said.

Zach’s heart pounded in his ears as his body reacted harshly and profoundly. His reaction is pure adrenaline.. No hesitation, no stopping, no delay.

His whole body, he said, reacted in a primitive way. He felt the intensity of the “fight or flight” response for a few seconds, prompting him to find a safe place. He described what happened next as “chaotic.”

He will never forget the sound of students screaming, their shoes slamming against the pavement as gunfire chased them through buildings and classrooms.

Friends and classmates ran past each other in the horrifying blur, racing to find cover as the gunshots continued. Zach recalls differential perception – he might not have made it alive.

Though his path wasn’t planned, he knew his only chance of survival would require quick and decisive action. He had to go to his homeroom, a seemingly impossible task.

The absolute will to live is instinctive, he says, based on raw emotions and crippling fear. This combination will save his life as Zach soon finds himself in a familiar sacred place. His homeroom has become his fortress. He was crammed in a tiny closet with 15 people.

They will spend hours in the dark.

When law enforcement found Zach and his classmates, the shooting ended. Fear did not.

Zach recalls feeling incredibly relieved when he heard the sound of the SWAT team members approaching, their voices breaking the uncomfortable silence.

The emotions brought about by survival and the ensuing rescue were certainly not short-lived, but for Zach, those feelings eventually gave way to others, including anxiety and fear. Fear of crowds and concerts.

Zach is currently in his senior year at the University of Florida. He still has PTSD.

When he heard what happened in Texas on Tuesday, all the emotion and fear from Parkland returned. He said it came close to home.

He knows there are countless families that are hurting right now, and his heart goes out to all of them. He knows there are survivors who are also hurting, just like he did four years ago.

His message to the Texans: Lean on each other. That’s where you find strength.

He said it would take time.

“Grief is not a sprint, it is a marathon. cherish the moments you have with people,” he explained.

He wants the family and survivors to know they will get through this, he just hopes they reach out with compassion and support. He said no one can do this alone.

“Certainly in these moments, you realize love is stronger than hate. A strong and loving community is everything. ” Parkland survivor says Texas shooting gave him flashbacks

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