"Love is way stronger than evil when the community comes together.”By Andrea Alvarez

TAMPA BAY, Fla. (CW44 News at 10) – A Florida school shooting survivor is speaking out about the incidents unfolding in Texas.

20-year-old Zach Hibshman was a junior at Parkland, Florida’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School when police say a 17-year-old expelled student entered and opened fire there in 2018. 17 people were killed that day.

“I was 16 years old. I was in the building right next to it… and I did hear everything. It was definitely, very loud. I did unfortunately see bodies that were on the floor covered by sheets. When the SWAT and the police escort you out, it’s sort of surreal,” he explained. “When I got home, I turned on the news channel and I was just in a state of shock. I’m like, ‘there’s no way’. It’s terrible to think of that there were literally kids just a couple hundred feet next to me that did end up getting shot and did end up passing away.”

Seeing Tuesday’s tragedies at a Texas elementary school unfold, he says, brings back vivid memories.

“It’s unfathomable. It’s almost like, how did this happen? There were a plethora of thoughts and feelings that I had that I couldn’t really verbalize. It’s something that you never expect to happen, yet it keeps happening and so the next question is where do we go from here,” but he says he’s lucky to be able to share his story in hopes of helping others. “It’s in moments like these where it puts things into perspective because, unfortunately, in this day and age it could be taken at any point.”

CW44’s Andrea Alvarez, who spoke with Hibshman asked, “What would you say to those parents or families dealing with this tragedy over in Texas right now?”

“I would just say that…. that’s a great question,” he paused. “I would say that grief isn’t something that you want to rush. It’s definitely not a sprint, it’s a marathon. If I had any advice for the Texas community, it’s that love is way stronger than evil when the community comes together.”