• Nichols College recruiter was focused on keeping students safe during Florida shooting

    By: Sean ODonnell


    PROVIDENCE, R.I. – A recruiter and coach from Nichols College as happy to be back on home turf after his trip to a Florida high school turned to chaos when a gunman opened fire at the school.

    Paul Brower is an assistant dean and the tennis coach, but he was on a football recruiting trip at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida when the shots went out.

    “The fire alarm went off and then someone heard radio chatter about a fire cracker and someone said that isn’t a firecracker,” Brower said.

    Brower and the other coach from Nichols were meeting with several students and a football coach just after 2 p.m. when the shooting began.

    A code red sounded and they locked themselves inside the football coaches’ office, that’s when social media started rolling in.

    “That’s when they started to get these messages that were crazy, and one was when they learned coach Feis had been shot,” he said.

    Moments later they saw the shooter run by their window.

    “We watched a young man come across the window and jog to the field -- that was the shooter.”

    Nikolas Cruz had changed clothes trying to blend in as he fled, but Brower and the others were focused on keeping the students with them calm. 

    “Fortunately, we were in an area that wasn’t really affected.” 

    A SWAT team finally pulled them out as the students ran to friends and family waiting outside.

    As we were evacuated you could hear the kids hey hugging then watching parents reuniting. I can only imagine how nerve wracking that is,” Brower said.


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