Amid cries for gun control following the Marjory Stoneman Douglas school shooting, comes a story from a survivor, Lorenzo Prado, who was initially suspected as the person who carried out the massacre.
Holding back tears, Prado shared his story on Wednesday during demonstrations at the Florida capitol. He told reporters how he bore a resemblance to shooter Nikolas Cruz, that they “had the same clothes, same color, same facial structure somewhat.” He also revealed that later, six SWAT members threw him to the ground, cuffed him, and held him at gunpoint. He was briefly thought to be responsible for “the degrading and depreciating action of the disturbed individual, Nikolas Cruz.”
However, Prado cooperated with authorities because he "knew any move I made would be the end of my life.” Prado detailed the day’s events, and explained how his situation worsened after he hid in an auditorium sound booth. Others in the auditorium saw the resemblance between Prado and the gunman’s description and reported him:
“I was just hiding up there. I had no idea what was going on. Then the door started to rattle. At first, the only thought that came to my mind was, ‘I’m going to die, the shooter is going to kill me.’ But then SWAT comes in, and I thought they were here to rescue me. But then as I go down the stairs, I find out that I was wrong.”
“I found out that they thought it was me that killed the 17 people. I go down the stairs, they tell me to put my hands up. I, being the fool that I was, tried putting my phone back in my pocket. They demanded again, and I, not trying to be one of those news stories of someone dying wrongfully because they refused to put their hands up, I just dropped my phone at that moment and kept going. When I went out those doors, I had six SWAT members pointing their guns at me. I was tossed to the ground. I was unjustly cuffed and held at gunpoint.”
Prado also called Cruz a “terrorist” and said that the only way to enact real change is to change gun laws. Prado declared, “I’m here to demand change from our government. Because the lives lost, who shall not be lost in vain, shall then be used as a catalyst for change in our country today. We will make change in this country, and if not today, then tomorrow. And if not tomorrow, the day after that and the day after that, until we achieve the change that we want in this country.”
Wednesday marks one week since the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas in Parkland, Florida, which left 17 people dead. On Wednesday, hundreds of students walked out of their classrooms in solidarity with Parkland. Shooting survivors are also calling out for a national march.