College recruiters from Mass. hid in locker room during Florida school shooting

DUDLEY, Mass. – A pair of local college recruiters were inside a Florida high school when shots rang out Wednesday, and one of them told Boston 25 News he believes he saw the shooter.

Paul Brower, the assistant dean of enrollment at Nichols College in Dudley was on a trip with a football coach meeting with three athletes when they heard the gunshots.

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“Even the students we were meeting with, are getting social media messages about friends of theirs that had been hurt and how they lost one of their coaches apparently in this tragedy so it was pretty intense for these students to go through and I certainly feel for all of them it was an incredibly challenging experience,” Brower said.

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Along with the others, Brower waited anxiously in a locker room for the all clear. The room they were in had a window, and at one point the shooter walked right below it.

“He actually crossed apparently right in front of the window we were at and it was interesting because there was one student that was kind of jogging away from the building that had been close to the building and everyone else was exiting through the athletic fields,” he said. “It didn’t really stand out at first, but as we heard the chatter come across the radio, we're like wow apparently he had dropped the gear that he was wearing and he was trying to appear more as a normal student to blend in a bit.”

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Brower said it was tough getting calls or texts out at first, because so many people were trying to contact loved ones, but eventually he was able to let the folks at Nichols College and his family know they were safe.

He said his wife hadn't flipped the TV on and wasn't even aware of the situation unfolding in Florida.

Nichols College President Susan West Engelkemeyer released the following statement Thursday:

Dear Nichols College Community,

By now you have probably heard that Paul Brower, our assistant dean of admissions; and assistant football coach and graduate assistant St. Clair Ryan were visiting Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., on a recruiting visit during Wednesday's deadly school shooting. They are safe, and the Nichols community is deeply thankful as the security and safety of our students, faculty, and staff is our top concern.

While we are grateful for their safety, our community is profoundly saddened by the tragedy at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Our deepest sympathies go to the victims' families and friends during this very difficult time, and our thoughts and prayers are with the Parkland community.

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