A survivor of the recent mass shooting in Florida told reporters her grandfather had had the same experience back in 1949.
For Carly Novell, a student who survived the Wednesday mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, being trapped in mass casualty events might as well be a family curse: her grandfather, Charles Cohen, had a similar experience nearly 70 years ago, during the infamous “Walk of Death” in New Jersey.
On September 6, 1949, Howard Barton Unruh killed 13 people, including three children, during a 12-minute walk through his neighborhood in Camden, New Jersey.
Cohen managed to survive the rampage by hiding in a closet. Unfortunately, he lost both his parents and paternal grandmother to Unruh, who spent the rest of his life in a psychiatric clinic.
Now Novell, his granddaughter, has had to experience the same horror, ironically surviving by the very same means — hiding in a closet. Thankfully, she did not lose any family members, but she did lose friends, according to AP report.
“She’s a remarkable young lady, but this is hard on her,” says Lori Greenberg, Cohen’s daughter and Carly’s aunt. “Carly did lose a friend. A friend of hers saw two people shot dead.”
According to Greenberg, her father did not like to talk about the 1949 shooting.
“He wanted to live the rest of his life and not let this define him,” Greenberg said. “But I think not talking about it and letting it be repressed is much worse.”
He was so reserved about the incident his family didn’t even know about the Camden killings until he died.
“But family was so incredibly important to him because of what happened,” Novell told reporters. “He wasn’t as lucky as me.”
Cohen did talk to reporters about the incident in 1999.
“My memories don’t dim,” he told AP at the time. “Do you know how many times in 50 years I’ve relived that story? It could have been yesterday.”
On February 14, Nikolas Cruz, a student who was expelled for “disciplinary reasons,” is alleged to have entered his school in Parkland, Florida, with an AR-15 rifle and opened fire, killing 17 people and injuring 14 more.
As of February 16, there have been 18 shootings in US schools this year, according to ABC; in eight cases no injuries were sustained.
Florida’s school shooting is the deadliest since 2012, when a shooter opened fire at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, killing 20 students and teachers.