Student survivor hid in closet almost 70 years after grandfather hid from shooter

Carly Novell is a 17-year-old senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and was one of the fortunate ones on Wednesday afternoon: She survived the Parkland, Florida, shooting that devastated her school and took the lives of 17 of her classmates and bystanders.

It was the 18th school shooting this year alone.

Novell shared a tweet on Thursday, that has since gone viral, about how she made it through the shooting by hiding in a closet with 18 of her classmates. That feat alone is remarkable, but Novell added that when her grandfather, Charles Cohen, was twelve years old, he also hid in a closet while his entire family was murdered during one of America’s first mass shootings.

The shooting Carly Novell is referencing in her tweet was lone gunman Howard Unruh’s “Walk of Death.” On Tuesday, Sept. 6, 1949, Unruh murdered 13 people and wounded three others in a 20-minute shooting rampage. 

Carly Novell told HuffPost that when Cohen was living with his grandmother, mother, and father in a Camden, New Jersey, neighborhood, Unruh started shooting people.

“His mom told him to hide in the closet while they stayed in the room,” she told HuffPost.

“My grandpa heard everything and after that he lived with his cousin until he went to military school I believe. He never really talked about what happened and I didn’t find out until after he died. But family was so incredibly important to him because of what happened,” she said. “He wasn’t as lucky as me.”

Carly Novell said she hid from the shooter in her Florida school “in a closet in our newspaper room.”

“I didn’t have to hear anything. But I still felt it all,” she said.

49 PHOTOS
Shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida
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Shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida
PARKLAND, FL - FEBRUARY 14: People are brought out of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School after a shooting at the school that reportedly killed and injured multiple people on February 14, 2018 in Parkland, Florida. Numerous law enforcement officials continue to investigate the scene. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
PARKLAND, FL - FEBRUARY 14: People wait for loved ones as they are brought out of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School after a shooting at the school that reportedly killed and injured multiple people on February 14, 2018 in Parkland, Florida. Numerous law enforcement officials continue to investigate the scene. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Students leave Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, a city about 50 miles (80 kilometers) north of Miami on February 14, 2018 following a school shooting. A gunman opened fire at the Florida high school, an incident that officials said caused 'numerous fatalities' and left terrified students huddled in their classrooms, texting friends and family for help. The Broward County Sheriff's Office said a suspect was in custody. / AFP PHOTO / Eva Claire HAMBACH (Photo credit should read EVA CLAIRE HAMBACH/AFP/Getty Images)
PARKLAND, FL - FEBRUARY 14: People are brought out of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School after a shooting at the school that reportedly killed and injured multiple people on February 14, 2018 in Parkland, Florida. Numerous law enforcement officials continue to investigate the scene. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Students are released from a lockdown outside of Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. after reports of an active shooter on Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018. (John McCall/Sun Sentinel/TNS via Getty Images)
Medical personnel tend to a victim outside of Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. after reports of an active shooter on Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018. (John McCall/Sun Sentinel/TNS via Getty Images)
Medical personnel tend to a victim outside of Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. after reports of an active shooter on Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018. (John McCall/Sun Sentinel/TNS via Getty Images)
Police and security vehicles are seen at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, a city about 50 miles (80 kilometers) north of Miami on February 14, 2018 following a school shooting. A gunman opened fire at the Florida high school, an incident that officials said caused 'numerous fatalities' and left terrified students huddled in their classrooms, texting friends and family for help. The Broward County Sheriff's Office said a suspect was in custody. / AFP PHOTO / Michele Eve SANDBERG / The erroneous mention[s] appearing in the metadata of this photo by Michele Eve SANDBERG has been modified in AFP systems in the following manner: [Byline: Michele Eve SANDBERG] instead of [Eva Hambach]. Please immediately remove the erroneous mention from all your online services and delete it from your servers. If you have been authorized by AFP to distribute it to third parties, please ensure that the same actions are carried out by them. Failure to promptly comply with these instructions will entail liability on your part for any continued or post notification usage. Therefore we thank you very much for all your attention and prompt action. We are sorry for the inconvenience this notification may cause and remain at your disposal for any further information you may require. (Photo credit should read MICHELE EVE SANDBERG/AFP/Getty Images)
Students react following a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, a city about 50 miles (80 kilometers) north of Miami on February 14, 2018. A gunman opened fire at the Florida high school, an incident that officials said caused 'numerous fatalities' and left terrified students huddled in their classrooms, texting friends and family for help. The Broward County Sheriff's Office said a suspect was in custody. / AFP PHOTO / Michele Eve Sandberg (Photo credit should read MICHELE EVE SANDBERG/AFP/Getty Images)
PARKLAND, FL - FEBRUARY 14: The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School is seen after a shooting at the school that reportedly killed and injured multiple people on February 14, 2018 in Parkland, Florida. Numerous law enforcement officials continue to investigate the scene. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Security speak with people near Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, a city about 50 miles (80 kilometers) north of Miami on February 14, 2018 following a school shooting. A gunman opened fire at the Florida high school, an incident that officials said caused 'numerous fatalities' and left terrified students huddled in their classrooms, texting friends and family for help. The Broward County Sheriff's Office said a suspect was in custody. / AFP PHOTO / Michelle Eve SANDBERG (Photo credit should read MICHELLE EVE SANDBERG/AFP/Getty Images)
PARKLAND, FL - FEBRUARY 14: People are brought out of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School after a shooting at the school that reportedly killed and injured multiple people on February 14, 2018 in Parkland, Florida. Numerous law enforcement officials continue to investigate the scene. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Students gather following a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, a city about 50 miles (80 kilometers) north of Miami, February 14, 2018 . A gunman opened fire at the Florida high school, an incident that officials said caused 'numerous fatalities' and left terrified students huddled in their classrooms, texting friends and family for help. The Broward County Sheriff's Office said a suspect was in custody. / AFP PHOTO / Michele Eve Sandberg (Photo credit should read MICHELE EVE SANDBERG/AFP/Getty Images)
A student wears a Valentine's pin as she leaves Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, a city about 50 miles (80 kilometers) north of Miami on February 14, 2018 following a school shooting. A gunman opened fire at the Florida high school, an incident that officials said caused 'numerous fatalities' and left terrified students huddled in their classrooms, texting friends and family for help. The Broward County Sheriff's Office said a suspect was in custody. / AFP PHOTO / Michele Eve Sandberg (Photo credit should read MICHELE EVE SANDBERG/AFP/Getty Images)
PARKLAND, FL - FEBRUARY 14: Fire Rescue personnel work the scene at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School after a shooting at the school that reportedly killed and injured multiple people on February 14, 2018 in Parkland, Florida. Numerous law enforcement officials continue to investigate the scene. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Police and fire rescue vehicles converge on Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. after reports of an active shooter on Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018. (John McCall/Sun Sentinel/TNS via Getty Images)
MAJORY STONEMAN DOUGLAS HIGH SCHOOL, PARKLAND, FLORIDA - OCTOBER 31, 2017: Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Broward County, Florida. (Photo DigitalGlobe via Getty Images)
Students leave Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, a city about 50 miles (80 kilometers) north of Miami on February 14, 2018 following a school shooting. A gunman opened fire at the Florida high school, an incident that officials said caused 'numerous fatalities' and left terrified students huddled in their classrooms, texting friends and family for help. The Broward County Sheriff's Office said a suspect was in custody. / AFP PHOTO / Michele Eve Sandberg (Photo credit should read MICHELE EVE SANDBERG/AFP/Getty Images)
Parents confer with security following a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, a city about 50 miles (80 kilometers) north of Miami, February 14, 2018 . A gunman opened fire at the Florida high school, an incident that officials said caused 'numerous fatalities' and left terrified students huddled in their classrooms, texting friends and family for help. The Broward County Sheriff's Office said a suspect was in custody. / AFP PHOTO / Michele Eve SANDBERG (Photo credit should read MICHELE EVE SANDBERG/AFP/Getty Images)
Police officers ride in the back of a pick up truck with a victim outside of Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. after reports of an active shooter on Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018. (John McCall/Sun Sentinel/TNS via Getty Images)
A law enforcement officer directs traffic outside of Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. after reports of an active shooter on Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018. (John McCall/Sun Sentinel/TNS via Getty Images)
A young woman who just walked out from the direction of the high school, who refused to give her name, gets a hug as she reaches the overpass at Coral Springs Drive and the Sawgrass Expressway just south of the campus of Marjorie Stonemason Douglas High School where a shooting occurred on Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018 in Parkland, Fla. (Amy Beth Bennett/Sun Sentinel/TNS via Getty Images)
A student reacts as she talks to a television reporter at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, a city about 50 miles (80 kilometers) north of Miami on February 14, 2018 following a school shooting. A gunman opened fire at the Florida high school, an incident that officials said caused 'numerous fatalities' and left terrified students huddled in their classrooms, texting friends and family for help. The Broward County Sheriff's Office said a suspect was in custody. / AFP PHOTO / Michele Eve SANDBERG (Photo credit should read MICHELE EVE SANDBERG/AFP/Getty Images)
SWAT vehicles converge on Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. after reports of an active shooter on Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018. (John McCall/Sun Sentinel/TNS via Getty Images)
Students react at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, a city about 50 miles (80 kilometers) north of Miami on February 14, 2018 following a school shooting. A gunman opened fire at the Florida high school, an incident that officials said caused 'numerous fatalities' and left terrified students huddled in their classrooms, texting friends and family for help. The Broward County Sheriff's Office said a suspect was in custody. / AFP PHOTO / Michele Eve SANDBERG (Photo credit should read MICHELE EVE SANDBERG/AFP/Getty Images)
People react at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, a city about 50 miles (80 kilometers) north of Miami on February 14, 2018 following a school shooting. A gunman opened fire at the Florida high school, an incident that officials said caused 'numerous fatalities' and left terrified students huddled in their classrooms, texting friends and family for help. The Broward County Sheriff's Office said a suspect was in custody. / AFP PHOTO / Michele Eve SANDBERG (Photo credit should read MICHELE EVE SANDBERG/AFP/Getty Images)
PARKLAND, FL - FEBRUARY 14: People are brought out of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School after a shooting at the school that reportedly killed and injured multiple people on February 14, 2018 in Parkland, Florida. Numerous law enforcement officials continue to investigate the scene. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Students are released from a lockdown outside of Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. after reports of an active shooter on Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018. (John McCall/Sun Sentinel/TNS via Getty Images)
PARKLAND, FL - FEBRUARY 14: People are brought out of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School after a shooting at the school that reportedly killed and injured multiple people on February 14, 2018 in Parkland, Florida. Numerous law enforcement officials continue to investigate the scene. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Students are evacuated by police out of Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., after a shooting on Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018. (Mike Stocker/Sun Sentinel/TNS via Getty Images)
PARKLAND, FL - FEBRUARY 14: People are brought out of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School after a shooting at the school that reportedly killed and injured multiple people on February 14, 2018 in Parkland, Florida. Numerous law enforcement officials continue to investigate the scene. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Students react following a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, a city about 50 miles (80 kilometers) north of Miami on February 14, 2018. A gunman opened fire at the Florida high school, an incident that officials said caused 'numerous fatalities' and left terrified students huddled in their classrooms, texting friends and family for help. The Broward County Sheriff's Office said a suspect was in custody. / AFP PHOTO / Michele Eve Sandberg (Photo credit should read MICHELE EVE SANDBERG/AFP/Getty Images)
Students react following a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, a city about 50 miles (80 kilometers) north of Miami on February 14, 2018. A gunman opened fire at the Florida high school, an incident that officials said caused 'numerous fatalities' and left terrified students huddled in their classrooms, texting friends and family for help. The Broward County Sheriff's Office said a suspect was in custody. / AFP PHOTO / Michele Eve Sandberg (Photo credit should read MICHELE EVE SANDBERG/AFP/Getty Images)
Students react following a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, a city about 50 miles (80 kilometers) north of Miami on February 14, 2018. A gunman opened fire at the Florida high school, an incident that officials said caused 'numerous fatalities' and left terrified students huddled in their classrooms, texting friends and family for help. The Broward County Sheriff's Office said a suspect was in custody. / AFP PHOTO / Michele Eve Sandberg (Photo credit should read MICHELE EVE SANDBERG/AFP/Getty Images)
Students are brought across Coral Springs Drive from the campus of Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., after a shooting on Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018. (Amy Beth Bennett/Sun Sentinel/TNS via Getty Images)
Waiting for word from students at Coral Springs Drive and the Sawgrass Expressway just south of the campus of Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., after a shooting on Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018. (Amy Beth Bennett/Sun Sentinel/TNS via Getty Images)
SWAT vehicles converge on Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. after reports of an active shooter on Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018. (John McCall/Sun Sentinel/TNS via Getty Images)
Waiting for word from students at Coral Springs Drive and the Sawgrass Expressway just south of the campus of Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., after a shooting on Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018. (Amy Beth Bennett/Sun Sentinel/TNS via Getty Images)
Trauma surgeon Dr. Igor Nichiporenko (C) and director for emergency medicine Dr. Evan Boyar (R) address the media outside the Broward Health Emergency facility where victims were taken following a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, a city about 50 miles (80 kilometers) north of Miami on February 14, 2018. Seventeen people were killed when a 19-year-old former student opened fire with a semi-automatic rifle at the Florida high school, the local sheriff said, calling the scene 'horrific.' Broward County Sheriff Steve Israel said the victims were a mix of students and adults, though he could not confirm if the adults were teachers. / AFP PHOTO / Michele Eve SANDBERG (Photo credit should read MICHELE EVE SANDBERG/AFP/Getty Images)
Waiting for word from students at Coral Springs Drive and the Sawgrass Expressway just south of the campus of Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., after a shooting on Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018. (Amy Beth Bennett/Sun Sentinel/TNS via Getty Images)
Florida Governor Rick Scott (4th-L) visits Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School following a shooting that killed 17 people on February 14, 2018 in Parkland, Florida. A former student armed with an AR-15 rifle opened fire at a Florida high school, killing at least 17 people, officials said, in a harrowing shooting spree that saw terrified students hiding in closets and under desks as they texted for help. Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel identified the gunman as Nikolas Cruz, 19, a former student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland who had been expelled for 'disciplinary reasons.' / AFP PHOTO / Gaston De Cardenas (Photo credit should read GASTON DE CARDENAS/AFP/Getty Images)
BROWARD, UNITED STATES - FEBRUARY 14: Students meet their families following a school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Broward, Florida on February 14, 2018. At least 17 people were killed Wednesday when a lone gunman opened fire on a Florida high school, according to police. The victims are a mix of students and adults, officials said. (Photo by Carlos Miller/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Police vehicles block the road to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, following a shooting that killed 17 people on February 14, 2018 in Parkland, Florida. A former student armed with an AR-15 rifle opened fire at a Florida high school, killing at least 17 people, officials said, in a harrowing shooting spree that saw terrified students hiding in closets and under desks as they texted for help. Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel identified the gunman as Nikolas Cruz, 19, a former student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland who had been expelled for 'disciplinary reasons.' / AFP PHOTO / Gaston De Cardenas (Photo credit should read GASTON DE CARDENAS/AFP/Getty Images)
PARKLAND, FL - FEBRUARY 14: Nathanael Clark (L) and his father, John Clark, speak to the media after Nathanael escaped the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that killed 17 people on February 14, 2018 in Parkland, Florida. Numerous law enforcement officials continue to investigate the scene. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
PARKLAND, FL - FEBRUARY 14: Sarah Crescitelli leans on her mother, Stacy Crescitelli (L) after she escaped the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that killed 17 people on February 14, 2018 in Parkland, Florida. Numerous law enforcement officials continue to investigate the scene. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
The location where suspect Nikolas Cruz was caught by police at a townhouse in Pelican Pointe at Wyndham Lakes in Coral Cables, Florida following the deadly shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida on Febreuary 14, 2018. A former student armed with an AR-15 rifle opened fire at a Florida high school, killing at least 17 people, officials said, in a harrowing shooting spree that saw terrified students hiding in closets and under desks as they texted for help. Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel identified the gunman as Nikolas Cruz, 19, a former student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland who had been expelled for 'disciplinary reasons.' / AFP PHOTO / Michele Eve SANDBERG (Photo credit should read MICHELE EVE SANDBERG/AFP/Getty Images)
Parents meet at the Fort Lauderdale Marriott Coral Springs Hotel to pick up their children following a mass shooting at nearby Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., on Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018. (Jim Rassol/Sun Sentinel/TNS via Getty Images)
Parents meet at the Fort Lauderdale Marriott Coral Springs Hotel to pick up their children following a mass shooting at nearby Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., on Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018. (Jim Rassol/Sun Sentinel/TNS via Getty Images)
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“We were all squished together in the closet and I was comforting my friends while they were having panic attacks. I didn’t know when I would get out, I just knew that I had to survive and I had to make sure everyone was ok. I’ve never felt more relief than when I did when the police came and got us.”

The teenager also told HuffPost that she “really just didn’t think it was real.”

“I just wanted to stay safe and keep everyone safe. When I got out, I was just hoping to see my mom and hug her because I couldn’t even imagine how scared she was,” she said.

Carly Novell said that she wishes her grandfather, who passed away in 2009, was here now because she feels like they “share something really important.”

Novell’s mother, Merri Novell, gave us permission to speak with her daughter and spoke about the residual impact the shooting had on her father.

“When I grew up, I witnessed my father’s pain. He tried to hide it with jokes but it was always forever present,” Merri told HuffPost via email.

“I would practice making myself really small to see if I could hide in the smallest of places.  As I got older, I carried those fears with me but also carried my father’s pain too. I witnessed the anguish my father felt whenever another mass shooting occurred. He would call me with such deep sadness in his voice and share the news with me. It was so painful to witness.”  

Merri said that her father was against guns, believing “that no one should own a gun except for law enforcement” ― a sentiment shared by both her and Carly. Merri described her daughter as something of an “activist” and “couldn’t get over the irony” of her daughter hiding in a closet from a shooter.

“I am glad [my father] wasn’t alive to have to feel the anguish and pain that we felt yesterday. It would have been too much for him to handle. I am proud of Carly for carrying on my father’s message and speaking out against gun violence. None of this is new…history keeps repeating itself.  When is society going to wake up and realize that guns kill people. There is no use for guns in a civilized society. We need new laws to protect our loved ones from all of this senseless grief.”

Carly Novell is headed off to college next year to study journalism and hopes for change.

“This has been happening repeatedly, there are too many lives being lost because people don’t want to make a difference. It happened to my grandpa and it happened to me. People value ‘the right to bear arms’ over people’s lives. I can’t even comprehend it.”

17 PHOTOS
Victims of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting
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Victims of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting

Scott Beige - Geography Teacher

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Elizabeth James Watt​​​​​​​

Chris Hixon - athletic director

Photo Credit: Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School

15-year-old Alyssa Alhadeff

Photo Credit: Florida Youth Soccer Association

14-year-old Alex Schachter

Photo Credit : Getty 

14-year-old Cara Loughran

Photo Credit: Facebook

17-year-old Helena Ramsey

Photo Credit: Facebook

14-year-old Alaina Petty

Photo Credit: Facebook

14-year-old Gina Montalto

Photo Credit: Facebook

15-year-old Peter Wang
18-year-old Meadow Pollack (left)

Student Jaime Guttenberg

Photo Credit: Facebook 

Student Martin Duque

Photo Credit: Martin Duque/GoFundMe

17-year-old student Nick Dworet

Photo Credit: Instagram 

Football coach Aaron Feis.

Photo Credit: MSDfootball.com

16-year-old student Carmen Schentrup

Student Joaquin Oliver

Photo Credit: Facebook

Student Luke Hoyer

Photo Credit: Facebook 

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  • This article originally appeared on HuffPost.
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