Anders Hagstrom, DCNF
This Florida father-son pair now have a new thing in common: surviving a mass shooting.
Unlike 17 of his schoolmates, Braden Freidkes survived last week’s shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. His father, John Freidkes, shared his good fortune at the Las Vegas massacre that claimed 58 lives in October 2017.
Braden spent the shooting in the classroom of his favorite teacher, Scott Beigel – or Mr. Beigel to him. Beigel heroically corralled students into his classroom and later died defending them. Braden had to step over the body of his favorite teacher to get to safety.
“What really hurt me is that I passed every test, but the last one I did bad on and that’s how it ended for me. I was super sad to kind of let him down on that,” Braden told CNN.
Months early, John had considered homeschooling Braden as a result of his experience in Las Vegas, where he hid in a taxi with other concert-goers.
“There was a crowd of people running towards us yelling ‘there’s a shooter, there’s a shooter,’” said John. “We were lucky enough to jump in a taxi cab where there were two women in there already. One was hyperventilating, the other was seemingly in shock. We asked if they were coming from the venue and they were.”
John ultimately decided to keep his son at Stoneman Douglas, explaining that he wouldn’t teach his son to live in fear. But with the horrific experiences shared between them, that may be easier said than done.
“I want to be safe wherever I go,” said Braden. “I want to go to school to learn, I want to get an education, I want to be safe, and I want to come home to see my parents every day.”
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