Jacksonville woman recounts terrifying call from niece inside South Florida school

Dr. Asha Jaleel talked with niece, nephew as they took cover during shooting

By Corley Peel - Reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A Jacksonville woman took a terrifying phone call Wednesday afternoon while her niece and nephew were taking cover at a South Florida high school where 17 people were killed in a mass shooting.

Authorities said a 19-year-old former student opened fire with a semi-automatic rifle at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, which has about 3,000 students.

Among those students who were on lockdown at the school during the shooting were Dr. Asha Jaleel's niece and nephew. 

Jaleel told News4Jax her niece called her, frantically crying, after watching her teacher get shot inside the school. She said her niece doesn't know whether her teacher survived.

While her niece hid in her classroom, Jaleel was texting with her nephew as he was evacuating the school with his classmates.  

"I was devastated," she said.

Fortunately, Jaleel said, her niece and nephew were unharmed.

But after seeing the video and hearing what happened, Jaleel said that all she wanted to do was rush to be with her family members as they cope with the tragic attack.

"I was ready to jump in my car and drive down there," Jaleel said. "I'm trying to get them to either come here or I go there, just be there for them and give them the comforts, and just let them know that everything is OK and just take it day by day. It's just knowing that the type of world we live in right now, no one is safe." 

Jaleel said the area of Parkland, where the school is located, is a safe, nice community where families live, and an area she would never expect a mass shooting to happen. 

Jaleel also said she will be speaking at the University of North Florida on Thursday about how teenagers can deal with the stresses in life.

After Wednesday's mass shooting, she said, it's extremely important, now more than ever before, for teens to understand how to manage their stress.

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