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Parkland survivor's dad escaped harm in Las Vegas shooting

Father and son stories aren't supposed to look like this."I was praying for my friends and family to be OK," s...

Posted: Feb 22, 2018 12:26 AM
Updated: Feb 22, 2018 12:26 AM

Father and son stories aren't supposed to look like this.

"I was praying for my friends and family to be OK," said Braden Freidkes, a freshman at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. He was inside the school when a gunman started shooting.

Braden eventually made it out and into his parents' arms. They had been trying to reach him repeatedly and up until that point had feared the worst. "We were one of the lucky ones. We were able to get him and he was safe," said John Freidkes, Braden's father.

But now Braden and his dad have a shared experience, in a way they could have never imagined.

John Freidkes was in Las Vegas in October when a gunman opened fire onto a concert crowd.

"There was a crowd of people running towards us yelling 'there's a shooter, there's a shooter,'" said Freidkes. "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."

'I don't know what to tell my kids'

Just months later, Freidkes is at a loss for words.

"My parents never had to talk to me about situations like this," Freidkes said. "You get up every morning and you're afraid to turn on the news."

The Las Vegas shooting became the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history, and Parkland is in the top 10, the deadliest school shooting since Sandy Hook.

Freidkes said at first he was worried about sending Braden back to school, and he thought about homeschooling, but he quickly dismissed it. "You can't live in fear," he said.

"It's got to stop. There's got to be a way," Freidkes said. "Our political leaders that we vote for work for us, not for lobbyists, and they need to remember that."

'I want to get an education, I want to be safe'

Braden was across the hall from teacher Scott Beigel as the shooting began to unfold.

"I asked my teacher Mr. Beigel, saying 'What's going on,' because we all ran back," Braden said.

Beigel was one of 17 people killed in the Parkland shooting. He was Braden's favorite teacher and died defending his classroom.

"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 said he had to walk around his teacher's body when he was eventually able to leave the school.

While some have viewed mass shootings as a continuous cycle of "thoughts and prayers" followed by inaction, some of these student survivors have rallied around #NeverAgain in hopes of making the hashtag a reality.

It's a reality built on stakes that both a father and son have now seen firsthand, only months apart.

"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."

Marches are being organized around the country with one mission: To pressure members of Congress to act on gun reform and to make schools safer. They include a march on Washington called "March for Our Lives" on March 24.

CNN will hold a town hall with students and parents affected by the Parkland shooting. Both Florida senators, Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio will participate. President Trump and Gov. Rick Scott were invited, but neither will be attending.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 611039

Reported Deaths: 9716
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion844351336
Lake45508685
Allen32891552
Hamilton29546315
St. Joseph27449381
Elkhart24440345
Vanderburgh19513250
Tippecanoe18043140
Johnson15140295
Porter14865169
Hendricks14440248
Madison11009222
Vigo10769181
Clark10731144
Monroe9424113
Delaware9152134
LaPorte9103164
Howard8268144
Kosciusko808983
Warrick676599
Hancock6741104
Bartholomew6523100
Floyd6469110
Wayne6157162
Grant6011116
Dubois556980
Boone554668
Morgan545795
Henry509764
Marshall505384
Cass485264
Dearborn483245
Noble474059
Jackson426747
Shelby419581
Lawrence392980
Clinton374243
Gibson372559
Harrison350945
DeKalb348264
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Martin74413
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Union6287
Ohio4957
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Ohio Coronavirus Cases

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Cases: 864322

Reported Deaths: 10711
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin101705707
Cuyahoga860661145
Hamilton64392448
Montgomery43309418
Summit35063761
Lucas31500625
Butler31128232
Stark25933435
Warren19746141
Lorain19165223
Mahoning17383338
Lake16178154
Clermont16057111
Delaware1445479
Licking13274137
Fairfield1287781
Trumbull12861316
Greene12114139
Medina11666168
Clark10995265
Wood10407158
Allen9945126
Portage9382109
Miami921073
Richland9186118
Marion7467113
Tuscarawas7410182
Columbiana7356124
Pickaway728450
Wayne7080171
Muskingum705241
Erie6188129
Hancock554390
Ross5532100
Scioto541664
Geauga513555
Darke471092
Lawrence457958
Ashtabula454673
Union454628
Sandusky438562
Mercer434489
Seneca431566
Huron430041
Auglaize423064
Shelby421922
Jefferson420569
Belmont417740
Washington391840
Athens38129
Putnam376275
Madison356529
Knox354422
Ashland347438
Fulton339343
Defiance332286
Crawford323874
Preble321437
Brown313921
Logan309132
Ottawa294943
Clinton290743
Williams279467
Highland276718
Jackson265345
Guernsey256326
Champaign252628
Fayette237330
Morrow23334
Perry232018
Holmes225674
Henry220149
Hardin214033
Coshocton205722
Van Wert202645
Gallia198826
Wyandot196151
Pike177417
Adams176915
Hocking172624
Carroll156216
Paulding144721
Noble120740
Meigs109024
Monroe101032
Harrison89421
Morgan83430
Vinton70813
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