Fla. girl hid in closet like her grandpa in Camden ‘Walk of Death’
PARKLAND, Fla. — For one student at Stoneman Douglas High School, Wednesday's fatal rampage shooting brought her closer to her grandfather.
Carly Novell, 17, said on Twitter that she hid in a closet for two hours while Nikolas Cruz shot up the school, killing 17.
She said her grandfather, Charles Cohen, had a similar experience in 1949, when Howard Unruh's "Walk of Death" through Camden killed 13 people in his neighborhood.
"This is my grandpa. When he was 12 years old, he hid in a closet while his family was murdered during the first mass shooting in America. Almost 70 years later, I also hid in a closet from a murderer. These events shouldn't be repetitive. Something has to change," Novell wrote in a Twitter message.
Novell told the Huffington Post that her grandfather, who died the same year as the killer in 2009, didn't talk much about what happened to him in Camden. She learned of the details after his death.
Unruh was found to be criminally insane and was locked up until his death. In addition to the 13 people that he killed with a pistol — the youngest was 2, the oldest 68 — he injured three more. The victims had been going about their business in shops and on the street.
Novell, like many of the families of the victims and those who also hid inside the school, is hoping to prevent history from repeating itself yet again.
"People keep saying your thoughts and prayers and all of these things, but it doesn't make a difference if nothing ever changes. This happens over and over again and people are dying, and it seems like it doesn't matter because, what are thoughts and prayers going to do when people are already dead," she told CNN in an interview.
She also tangled with conservative commentator Tomi Lahren, who was critical of those who used the incident to call for more gun control.
Novell was one of at least two New Jersey connections to the shooting at her high school.
A former New Jersey girl was among the 17 fatalities. The mother of Alyssa Alhadeff, a recent Woodcliff Lake resident, delivered a heart-rending message to President Trump on CNN.
The superintendent of Woodcliff Lake said the district called in grief counselors to speak with students who knew Alhadeff.