ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:
Tonight we're following the story of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. A 19-year-old former student opened fire there in the middle of the afternoon, and authorities say 17 people have died. The suspect is in police custody, but the community is just starting to grasp everything that's happened. We're joined now by a mother of twins who attend the high school. Alison Carew, thanks for joining us once again.
ALISON CAREW: Thank you.
SHAPIRO: I should say earlier this afternoon when we spoke, you were reunited with one of your daughters but not the other. The other called. You had to get off the phone. We were live on the radio. You hung up the phone. What happened?
CAREW: She was calling from a friend's phone because her phone had died, and she was telling me that she was at the Parkland Library and safe and ready to be picked up.
SHAPIRO: When the three of you were reunited, can you just describe that moment?
CAREW: Oh, we all cried. I'm still crying.
SHAPIRO: I'm so glad they're both OK.
CAREW: Me too.
SHAPIRO: What has this day been like for you?
CAREW: Incredibly scary. They're still both so shaken. And they were not together. They both were independently shoved into a close, you know, building and - by teachers because he pulled the fire alarm to get them out.
SHAPIRO: The shooter did, yeah.
CAREW: Yes. These teachers, you know, ran, got all the kids that they could see and shoved them somewhere safe and locked them away so that they didn't get hurt. And I'm just so grateful.
SHAPIRO: I know your daughters, Madison (ph) and Mackenzie (ph), are there.
SHAPIRO: Are they comfortable talking to us?
SHAPIRO: OK. Would you mind putting one of them on the phone?
CAREW: Sure. I'll give you Madison first. Hold on.
MADISON CAREW: Hello.
SHAPIRO: Hi, Madison. This is Ari.
MADISON CAREW: Hi.
SHAPIRO: I'm so glad you're OK.
MADISON CAREW: Thank you.
SHAPIRO: Do you mind talking about what happened today?
MADISON CAREW: So I was actually in Spanish class, and they - the alarm went off. I believe it was the fire alarm, which has never really heard before at school. So we all went out, and apparently that's when the shooter started shooting. We were going downstairs while the fire alarm was going off, and then some man - I guess he worked in the front office or whatever - threw me in the auditorium with a bunch of my other friends. And at the time, I didn't really know what was happening.
MADISON CAREW: I didn't know that there was a shooter on campus. I actually had a panic attack. And I was crying, and I couldn't catch my breath. And my Spanish teacher was sitting with me, and she's telling me that it was just a drill and that there's no reason to worry. But I actually knew that it was real because I saw every single teacher hiding behind a chair. I saw the SWAT team. I saw police officers with guns. And I saw everybody hiding behind the chairs, and I could hear the helicopters swirling around outside. I could hear the sirens, and I could hear gunshots from the police officers.
SHAPIRO: How long did you have to stay hidden there?
MADISON CAREW: They shoved me in there at about 2:30, and I believe I was let out about maybe 3:30, 3:45.
SHAPIRO: And what did you see as you were escorted from the building?
MADISON CAREW: They made us hold up our hands and actually run out off of campus as fast as we could. They were screaming at us, telling us to get off right away. And they made us drop our backpacks in the middle of the road, and we just sat on the curb, waited for everybody to become evacuated.
SHAPIRO: And did you know then if your sister was OK?
MADISON CAREW: No. My phone was dead. I had no idea. I tried calling her off of my other friend's phone. She answered. She told me she was in the front office. I told her to call me on my friend's phone if anything happened, if she needed me. And it was just absolutely horrible.
SHAPIRO: Of course. Is Mackenzie there? Would she be comfortable talking to us?
MADISON CAREW: Yes. You want to talk to her?
MACKENZIE CAREW: Hello.
SHAPIRO: Hi, Mackenzie. This is Ari.
MACKENZIE CAREW: Hello, Ari.
SHAPIRO: I'm so sorry for what you've been through today. How are you doing?
MACKENZIE CAREW: I'm doing all right. I'm just kind of scared, you know, for the people who are missing, the people who are hurt.
SHAPIRO: Yeah. You heard your sister describe what the experience was like for her. I know you were in a different part of the school.
MACKENZIE CAREW: Yes.
SHAPIRO: What happened where you were?
MACKENZIE CAREW: So where I was, after the fire alarm rang, I didn't know what was going on. So one of the teachers grabbed me and put me in the office with, like, 50 other kids. And I didn't know what was going on. I was all the way in the back, and all the girls in there were freaking out. And I was like, guys, it's probably drill because we were expecting a drill.
And so we were in the corner. We waited about an hour until this door swung open. And the only thing we heard because we couldn't see what was going on from the back - we heard, put your hands up. And we thought it was the gunman, so we were all crying with our hands up.
MACKENZIE CAREW: And then when we saw it was the SWAT team, we were really grateful. They escorted us outside and made us drop our backpacks on the road where they checked them and then returned them to us. And it was terrifying because I thought, like, the gunman was actually there. Like, I thought I was going to die. And the fact that a couple teachers were hurt or students - it's terrible, and it makes me - I'm so lucky to have not been hurt or...
SHAPIRO: Yeah. Do you know if your friends are OK?
MACKENZIE CAREW: I - we were all messaging each other while it was happening. I'm pretty sure the majority of them are OK, but...
SHAPIRO: So you don't know for sure of any friends who might have been injured.
MACKENZIE CAREW: Yeah.
SHAPIRO: Yeah. What's it like to have this happen at your school? I mean, school shootings are something you hear about on the news.
MACKENZIE CAREW: Yeah. I would have never expected that would happen to our school. Like, we have such a happy campus. We have such nice children. Like, I didn't expect it at all. I thought it was just going to be a normal day, like, good to see all my friends, you know, have fun in school. But I was mortified.
SHAPIRO: Can you tell me about the moment that you were reunited with your sister and your mom?
MACKENZIE CAREW: So after all, like, the police checked our bags, they just told us to start walking. So I just headed to the Parkland Library, and I called my mom on their phone, and I told her to come get me. And when she came and got me, like, she was so sad. Like, she had tears in her eyes, and she just hugged me, and she's like, I'm so glad you're OK.
SHAPIRO: Mackenzie, I'm glad you're OK, too. Do you mind putting your mom back on the line?
MACKENZIE CAREW: Yeah. Hold on.
SHAPIRO: Hi, Alison. It's Ari again.
SHAPIRO: Where are you right now?
CAREW: I'm at my parents' house.
SHAPIRO: It's a Wednesday night. It's Valentine's Day. Your family is all together. I don't know. How are you going to spend this evening? How do you feel?
CAREW: I'm - again, I'm very grateful for the teachers, but I'm incredibly sad for the people that were lost today and angry at the obviously mentally deranged child that decided to do this. And just - I'm overwhelmed. Like, I can't get rid of the chills. I'm just - I don't know whether to - I just keep hugging them. I'm just so overwhelmed. I'm so glad that my family all came together. We all met at my mother's house. My mom's making - my mom's Italian, making a big pasta dinner for everybody - of course no meat because it's Ash Wednesday. So - but I'm just glad we're all together, and they're just pouring love on all of us.
SHAPIRO: Alison Carew, thank you for talking with us. And please tell your daughters, Madison and Mackenzie, thank you as well.
CAREW: Oh, thanks so much. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.