The mass shooting at a Florida high school that left 17 people dead has brought two brothers closer together.
Sam Zeif, an 18-year-old senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, and his brother, Matthew Zeif, a freshman at the school, were both in their separate classrooms Wednesday when 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz allegedly opened fire on students and faculty.
Sam Zeif said he had just finished a math test when he heard seven or eight shots from his second-floor classroom. He said his teacher instructed students to get into hiding spots, and when the fire drill went off they knew not to leave the classroom.
“After sitting there for ten minutes of hearing shots, I realized my brother was right above me. He was on the third floor, I was like ‘my little brother might not be okay’ so I texted him,” Sam Zeif told InsideEdition.com.
“Are you ok?” Sam asked.
“Hopefully,” Matthew answered during a series of texts between the brothers. “Just know I love you.”
“I love you too,” Sam wrote back.
Scariest part of it all was knowing my little brother was right above me and not knowing if I would ever see him again. I’ve never really treated him the way he deserved. Not anymore. Seeing his face outside of school was the most relief I had ever felt. My prayers to all. pic.twitter.com/Iq8CHVNXd0 — Uncle Sam Zeif #Douglasstrong (@SzZeif) February 15, 2018
Sam Zeif said many students on the third floor hadn’t heard the initial gunshots and left their classrooms during the fire drill, until they realized what was happening.
Matthew Zeif’s teacher, Scott Beagle, who died while trying to huddle the kids in the classroom, saved the 14-year-old's life.
“My little brother was the last person that Scott Beagle saved,” Sam Zeif said. “He was getting all the kids back in the classroom before he was shot in the doorway.”
A scared Matthew Zeif texted his older brother saying, “Are the cops here? My teacher died. He’s sitting in the doorway.”
Thankfully, both brothers were unharmed in the shooting, but Sam Zeif said the experience has changed their relationship forever. They weren’t very close before the massacre, he said.
“Him and I had never really connected and now it’s like a whole new relationship,” Sam Zeif said. “I have this unreal appreciation for him that I never felt before and it’s amazing because I never realized how life could take him away from me. I never thought we could be in a situation where we would have to worry about that.”
Sam Zeif also said one of his best friends, Joaquin Oliver, died in the shooting. Both brothers have since been to therapy.
Zeif said he never wants something like this to happen again.
“We [students] are going to use our voice and our votes,” Zeif added.
Copyright (c) 2017 CBS Studios Inc. All Rights Reserved.