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February 15, 2018

Florida shooting survivor hid in a closet. 70 years ago, her Camden grandfather hid from nation's first mass murderer

Shootings Schools
02142018_Parkland_Shooting3_USAT John McCall / Sun Sentinel//TNS/Sipa USA

Medical personnel tend to a victim outside of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. after reports of an active shooter on Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018. At least 17 people were shot and killed in the attack.

After the third-deadliest school shooting in U.S. history ended with the arrest of suspect Nikolas Cruz on Wednesday, Carly Novell had a chilling anecdote to tell.

Novell, a 17-year-old senior at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, hid in a closet as Cruz allegedly gunned down 17 students and staff on Wednesday, much like her grandfather did nearly 70 years ago at his family home in Camden during the first mass shooting in the United States.


RELATED: 17 dead in Florida school shooting; authorities ID suspect


Novell shared the story on Twitter Wednesday night.

Her grandfather, Charles Cohen, was 12 when Howard Unruh gunned down 13 people in his Cramer Hill neighborhood, she said.

Unruh's shooting rampage became known as the "Walk of Death."

Novell told the Huffington Post that her grandfather was living with his mother, father and grandmother at the time. Unruh killed Rose Cohen, 38, Dr. Maurice J. Cohen, 39 and Minnie Cohen, 63.

Charles Cohen was the lone survivor and lived with his cousin after the tragedy, Novell told the site. 

“His mom told him to hide in the closet while they stayed in the room,” she told HuffPo.

She also said that she and her classmates hid "in a closet in our newspaper room."

"These events shouldn't be repetitive," Novell wrote in the tweet, which went viral. "Something has to change."

Novell also made news when she was among a number of witnesses who skewered outspoken Fox News host Tomi Lahren for a tweet aimed at gun control proponents who spoke out in the aftermath of the shooting.

"Can the Left let the families grieve for even 24 hours before they push their anti-gun and anti-gunowner agenda?" the conservative commentator wrote. "My goodness. This isn't about a gun, it's about another lunatic."

Novell responded by sharing her story on Twitter for the first time.

"I was hiding in a closet for 2 hours. It was about guns. You weren't there, you don't know how it felt," she wrote. "Guns give these disgusting people the ability to kill other human beings. This IS about guns and this is about all the people who had their life abruptly ended because of guns."

Cruz, 19, is a former student at the school and was reportedly expelled last year for disciplinary reasons. 

Media reports have shed light on Cruz's disturbing social media history, and CNN reported on Thursday that the FBI had been warned twice about Cruz. In one instance, a YouTube user tipped off the FBI after a comment left by a user with the name Nikolas Cruz on a video stated, "Im going to be a professional school shooter," according to the report.

The Sun Sentinel reported that Cruz told detectives he carried out the attack. He has been charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder and was ordreed held without bond in a brief court hearing on Thursday afternoon.

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