Parkland, FL – Hours after the devastating shooting at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, at least two Jewish teens remain unaccounted for, while several critically injured Jewish high schoolers are undergoing surgery.
Rabbi Shuey Biston, outreach and program director for Chabad of Parkland, located just five miles from the school, said that approximately 30 percent of Parkland’s residents are Jewish.
“I know 250 kids in that school,” Rabbi Biston told VIN News. “As soon as I heard about the shooting I went running over. They were evacuating kids from different buildings and kids that I knew came running over to me, giving me hugs, calling their parents and telling me which kids they had seen and were safe.”
One of those students told Rabbi Biston that after hearing a loud noise, students ran out into a corridor, only to be greeted by what sounded like a machine gun.
“They ran back into the classroom and barricaded the door,” said Rabbi Biston. “He told me that they heard kids outside in the hallway screaming for help and that when they finally were escorted to safety by the SWAT team an hour later they saw no less than 15 bodies lying on the floor.”
Rabbi Biston described the situation at the school as “a mob scene.”
“I’ve seen things like this on the news but you can’t even imagine what it is like in real life,” observed Rabbi Biston.
Two Jewish girls have yet to be accounted for and searches in local hospitals have so far been fruitless.
“One girl, her brother’s bar mitzvah was at our Chabad just two months ago,” said Rabbi Biston. “We have gone to all the hospitals and right now are fearing the worst.”
“They are still waiting to identify her,” added Rabbi Mendy Gutnik, educational director at Chabad of Parkland, who was also on scene after the shooting. “They believe she is still at the school.”
Parents whose children are still unaccounted for were taken to the Marriot Heron Bay to await news of their missing loved ones. Rabbi Gutnick was on hand at the hotel, providing emotional support to those who were gathered there. A team of ten volunteers from Florida’s Chesed Shel Emes is also in Parkland, offering their services at the Marriot, the school and local hospitals.
Director Mark Rosenberg said that reports from the school and the hospital are sobering and that he anticipates that it will be a long night for Chesed Shel Emes.
“Right now there are a lot of unconfirmed reports but all that could change so for now, we still have to hope as time goes by,” said Rosenberg. “We are fearing the worst but hoping for the best.”