Student Hides in Closet During School Shooting Almost 70 Years After Grandfather Did the Same

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Carly Novell survived the shooting rampage at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida by hiding in a closet — and her grandfather also escaped a lone gunman the same way almost 70 years ago.

The 17-year-old senior tweeted on Thursday about her being the second member in her family to survive a mass shooting.

“This is my grandpa. When he was 12 years old, he hid in a closet while his family was murdered during the first mass shooting in America. Almost 70 years later, I also hid in a closet from a murderer. These events shouldn’t be repetitive. Something has to change,” Novell tweeted.

Her grandfather, Charles Cohen, survived a mass shooting by a lone gunman, who was considered to be the first single-episode mass murderer in American history.

In an interview with CNN’s Don Lemon on “CNN Tonight,” Novell’s mother, Merri Novell, said she was always wary of school shootings.

“This keeps happening over and over again,” Novell said. “It started all the way back in 1949. And nothing has really changed because the gun laws haven’t changed.”

Related: Suspect in historic mass murder dies at 88

What happened on September 6, 1949

Howard Unruh was accused of killing more than a dozen people in the deadly shooting spree. He was diagnosed with “dementia praecox, mixed type, with pronounced catatonic and paranoid coloring” and was ruled criminally insane, making him immune from prosecution.

Cohen’s parents and grandmother were killed in their New Jersey home by Unruh, a World War II veteran September 6, 1949.

On “CNN Tonight,” Carly also expressed her frustration with perpetual inaction around gun control after mass shootings.

“I just want people to stop talking about it and then not doing anything,” she said. “People keep saying your thoughts and prayers and all of these things, but it doesn’t make a difference if nothing ever changes. This happens over and over again and people are dying, and it seems like it doesn’t matter because, what are thoughts and prayers going to do when people are already dead?”

The high school senior added that people can provide their thoughts and prayers and also put those same words into action to prevent other mass shootings.

“You can talk about what needs to change and you can also be mourning the victims,” she said. “It doesn’t have to be one or the other.”

The 17-year-old went on to speak out about her response to Fox News’ Tomi Lahren’s comments on gun control.

Lahren, a conservative commentator tweeted that the “left” should stop their anti-gun agenda.

“Can the Left let the families grieve for even 24 hours before they push their anti-gun and anti-gunowner agenda?” she wrote. “My goodness. This isn’t about a gun it’s about another lunatic.”

The high school shooting survivor told Lemon that she was upset with Lahren’s remarks and had to respond.

“I was hiding in a closet for 2 hours,” she wrote. “It was about guns. You weren’t there, you don’t know how it felt. Guns give these disgusting people the ability to kill other human beings. This IS about guns and this is about all the people who had their life abruptly ended because of guns.”

“I think it’s different when you hear it from someone who was there,” she said. “While we were in there, we were all still talking about gun control and how something needs to change. We were in a closet and we were still thinking about this. It matters all the time. There is no waiting period.”


  • Proletariat

    Assault Weapons Ban and Buyback/Confiscation
    Magazine Size Limits
    Comprehensive Background Check
    Mandatory Waiting Period
    Outlaw Concealed Carry
    Generous Buyback Program

    • John Williams

      How about changes to HIPA laws so past mental issues/autisim/ mind altering medication/ past history of reported verbal threats show up on the background check and STOP THE SALE????????

    • Foolish Post

      Suspension of the First Amendment
      Severely limit internet access
      Ban violent video games
      Require armed school teachers/ staff/students
      Death penalty for mass shooters.
      How’s that?

  • Safe To Say

    Grateful that someone was able to think quickly. However, the grandfather’s incident is nothing like a school shooting.

    These dreadful events have NO BUSINESS being discussed as political platforms. When people are snuffed out, it is a moral imperative to allow time for grief and anguish rather than using this (or, any) event to fuel a political agenda. It’s reprehensible that people do this.

    • Oh NEPA

      Of course the shooting is going to perpetuate the need for gun reform. It’s not the politician’s fault who is pushing for reform that the shooting happened. They NEED to take the opportunity to speak out about guns during times like this. If they don’t, nothing is going to change.

      • Naughtius Maximus

        Not now, they don’t. Let the dust settle and wait for a time when BOTH sides of this debate aren’t running on jet-fueled emotions. This requires introspection and contemplation, not rote slogans and propaganda.

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