The text message no parent wants to get: 'There is a shooter at my school'

With 1 percent battery, Liam Kiernan texted 'I love you' to his parents, sister

PARKLAND, Fla. – A day after the massacre at a South Florida high school, survivors shared terrifying stories of hiding for their lives when gunfire erupted Wednesday afternoon.

Not knowing if he'd make it out of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School alive, there was only one thing a 15-year-old student could do: text his family members, telling them he loved them.

"It was awful. So scary," freshman Liam Kiernan said. "I can't even describe the feeling of fear."

They heard gunshots and hid under their desks in a classroom.

"Everyone was scared for their life. I was texting my friends and family and everyone that I knew that I love them. Because I was not sure that I was going to see them again," Liam told News4Jax on Thursday. "It was that bad."

With his phone battery at 1 percent, Liam sent these text messages to his mother, father and sister:

There is a shooter at my school
A girl has been killed
Now 3
3 kids shot
I love you

Liam made it out alive, but his friend, Gina Montalto, was among the 17 killed.


"It was really, really hard," he said. "Because one day she was in your Spanish class, just hanging out with you, and the next day she is gone."

More than a dozen others were injured.

"We are coming down the road and I saw the police cars when I instantly said to my husband, 'Please don't let it be the high school,'" said Kelly Kiernan, Liam's mother.

While Liam was inside the school, his mother was outside as students who had been shot came out.

"Right in front of me was a girl with a gunshot wound in her back. Another girl was on the stretcher. I mean, we were sitting like right there in the middle with all the ambulances," Kelly said.

But the fear that Liam experienced while hiding under his desk has transformed into bravery as he moves forward.

Kelly Kiernan and her son, Liam Kiernan
Kelly Kiernan and her son, Liam Kiernan

"We all come together and I guess we just have to rejoice. That's the main thing we can do. Just hold each other's hand and make sure that everything that happened this day will go down," he said. "We have to remember every single student that was injured, or every single teacher. We have to stay strong because that is what they would have wanted."

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