There is a Northeast Ohio connection to Wednesday's shooting at a Florida high school. A former student opened fire, killing at leas 17 people, sending students running out into the streets and SWAT team members swarming in before authorities took him into custody.
Kelly Kiernan is a native of Strongsville. Her son Liam attends Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Broward County where the shooting took place.
Kelly is also close friends with WKYC's Director of Digital Content and Strategy, Denise Polverine. Kelly and Liam joined Denise for an exclusive video that you can watch in the player above.
"I was heading to pick up my son at the bus stop," Kelly told us. "All these police cars and ambulances were going up and down the street. I started getting a really bad feeling when I saw undercover police cars fly past us."
There had been 17 school shootings this year prior to Wednesday.
"Please don't let this be our school," she thought.
Liam told us that he was in his guitar class when the fire alarm went off at the school, which had already held a fire drill earlier in the day. "We were walking outside and saw a few cop cars going by, and something that sounded like a heavy thing being dropped hit the floor. I instantly thought that that was a gunshot," Liam said.
The students were evacuated back into the school. Liam and 50-60 other classmates went into the band room.
"You can't really prepare enough for this kind of situation," Liam said.
Kelly described her experience waiting for Liam to be released. She saw another student sitting with a man who was not his father, and felt the need to be a 'mom figure.'
“Sometimes you just need a mom figure there, she began. "So I sat down next to this boy and I said, 'are you ok honey?' And he used foul language which I wont repeat, but he said, 'I saw my best friend die, his brains went everywhere.' He was incredibly distraught, incredibly distraught. And I just kept holding him and telling him, you’ll be alright."
Kelly also took the following video on her phone outside of Marjory Stoneman Douglas as she was waiting for Liam:
A federal official has identified the Florida school shooting suspect as Nikolas Cruz, a student at the school at one time, but was not at the time of the shooting.