A PARKLAND survivor described his horror hiding in a closet when school shooter Nikolas Cruz opened fire, killing 17 students and staff.
Lewis Mizen, now 22, spoke to The Sun to mark four and five days Valentine’s Day Massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
He told how he spent two hours cramming into a small space at the back of his classroom after first thinking the alarm was just a drill.
And he described the moment he opened the cupboard door to scare the police that the gunman was lying in wait.
Mizen – now a student at Florida State University – admits that for a long time after the serial murder, he still thinks about it every day.
He added: “I don’t think about it on a daily basis and I certainly have.
“It’s just a gradual change.
“I can talk about it now without feeling sad. But I know it still upsets my parents.”
Lewis said the day began as a normal Valentine’s Day at the school in Parkland, Florida.
But at the end of the day, an alarm goes off throughout the school.
He added: “Just a week before that, they had new response measures in place for fires and active shootings so we thought it was a fire drill.
“Even when we realized it wasn’t a fire drill, we still thought it was a shooting drill.
“It took me a while to realize it was real.”
‘WE THINK IT IS DRILLING’
Lewis said he and his friends initially left the class thinking it was a practice session for an active shooting event.
But they were quickly told to return, where they then hid under their desks before heading to the closet.
“We were crammed,” Lewis said.
“There were a few people from other classes who were dragged there with us but most of us were classmates.
“So we tried to keep our spirits up. The teacher who was sharing the locker with us that day actually texted the day before to see how we were doing.
“There’s still that sense of friendship there, it unites you.”
After two hours huddled in a closet, Lewis said they heard someone calling themselves a police officer.
‘I SAY GUN’
Lewis told The Sun it was the scariest part of the day for him as he pondered whether it could be the gunman posing as a police officer.
He added: “We’ve had that conversation, we don’t know how many shooters there are, there are more rumors, we don’t know if they’re really police.
“In that moment, I was really scared
“I was closest to the door and when we opened it, we didn’t really know who it was on the other side.
“The first thing I saw was a gun. Luckily it was a police gun.
“But I have friends who didn’t open the door to the police because they were too scared.”
After being taken to safety, Lewis was able to text his parents – something he was unable to do in the closet after losing signal.
He added: “It felt like two hours shorter when we were there
“But I lost the signal so my parents were texting me frantically, in terms of long-term emotional damage, I think it affects them even more.”
After being moved to a safe place in the school library, The teenagers were finally reunited with their parents.
It was then that they realized that the classmates were all without the name and the identity of the gunman, Nikolas Cruz, first came to light.
Cruz23, pleaded guilty in October to 17 counts of first-degree murder and 17 counts of attempted murder.
The jury still has to decide whether he should be sentenced to death or receive a life sentence without parole.
The trial is expected to last at least two months and is scheduled for April.
Speaking last October Lewis said he I hope Cruz gets the death penalty.
“He will never have any value to society,” the Parkland survivor told The Sun. “For its flaws, Florida has the death penalty for a reason.
“And if you’re not going to use it for someone like him, who are you going to use it for?”
“I can’t name the last time I thought about him. And I think it’s for the best for him. He should be erased from history.”
As for Lewis, he says his family’s support means the event no longer “defines” him.
But he said he hasn’t celebrated Valentine’s Day since.
He added: “The school was empty when it was a student there, a lot of staff and teachers had also changed.
“I am trying to take the next step in the most positive direction.
“You notice that it can show up in small comments and people who don’t consult you.
“Nobody knew what to say when they found out.”
“For a while it was the defining point in my life, now it has become something that happened in my past.
“I’m very lucky because I can always talk to my parents about it, I’ve never had to hide how I feel.”
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Teacher Scott Beigel, 35, athletic director Christopher Hixon, 49, assistant football coach Aaron Feis, 37, and 14 students aged 14 to 18 were killed in the deadly shooting.
Students Martin Duque Anguiano, 14, student Nicholas Dworet, 17, Jaime Guttenberg, 14, Luke Hoyer, 15, and Cara Loughran, 14, were killed in the carnage.
Gina Montalto, 14, Joaquin Oliver, 17, Alaina Petty, 14, Meadow Pollack, 18, Helena Ramsay, 17, Alexander Schachter, 14, Carmen Schentrup, 16, and 15-year-old student Peter Wang also died network on that day.
Another 17 people were injured in the terrifying ordeal.
“I’ve always thought the best way to honor those who have died is to live life to the fullest for them,” Lewis added.
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https://www.the-sun.com/news/4654339/parkland-shooter-nikolas-cruz-lewis-mizen/ I hid in the closet when Parkland shooter Nikolas Cruz killed my friends