Alex Kaminsky, now band director at Marjory Stoneman Douglas, and students with him avoided injury
Alex Kaminsky was suspicious when the fire alarm went off in fourth period at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where he was teaching his wind symphony class.
The school had had a fire drill earlier that day, and it’s not uncommon for someone to accidentally activate the alarm and then turn it off. He told his students to stay seated for a little bit, but when the alarm didn’t stop, he told his students to leave the room.
When they reached the door, the alarm stopped. The students returned to their seats.
Shortly after, an assistant principal came on the intercom and told the school to evacuate. Kaminsky and his students left the band room, and as they neared the building’s exit, another assistant principal ran through the building, yelling at the class to get back to the room.
There was a shooter in a different building of the school, about 100 yards away.
“We did a 360 and ran back to the band room,” Kaminsky said Thursday.
Kaminsky moved to Stoneman Douglas, where the marching band is a perennial state champion, three years ago after teaching band at Buchholz High for eight years, where he also led state-championship marching bands. He was born and raised in Miami, and got his bachelor's degree from the University of Florida, but moved to be closer to home.
His 15-year-old son was in his class during the shooting. If he wasn’t, Kaminsky said, he would have panicked.
The band room doesn’t have many windows, but Kaminsky managed to peek out of one of them to the outside.
“Within minutes, the entire area was flooded with law enforcement,” he said.
His class, the assistant principal and Kaminsky huddled in the room's back corner for an about an hour, listening to the assistant principal’s walkie-talkie and looking online for news. Besides the walkie-talkie, it was silent there.
“We could hear a pin drop in the room the entire time,” Kaminsky said.
Then the SWAT team entered, made sure no one was holding the class hostage and evacuated the room.
Kaminsky said he felt relatively safe in the room, knowing that the shooter would first have to enter the building and then enter the room, which was locked.
He plans to continue teaching at the school.
“This can happen anywhere,” he said, while adding that Parkland was the last place he’d expect a mass shooting to happen. “You can’t not go to school.”
But he advises people to hug their loved ones tight.
“Don’t take them for granted,” he said.