Florida massacre survivor describes harrowing experience of being mistaken for shooter

Lorenzo Prado, a student who survived last week’s deadly shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, recounted the terrifying experience of being mistaken for the gunman.

The 11th grader described SWAT members pointing guns at him and tossing him to the ground in a case of mistaken identity. Prado said he was wearing a similar outfit as Nikolas Cruz, the 19-year-old who confessed to opening fire on the school, killing 17 people.

“I was unjustly cuffed and held at gunpoint for the degrading and depreciating action of the disturbed individual Nikolas Cruz,” Prado said during a press conference Wednesday at the Florida State Capitol. “I knew any move I made would be the end of my life.”

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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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Prado offered a detailed account of his scary experience:

I was in the sound booth inside the auditorium when the fire alarm rang. I decided I would stay behind because what could possibly go wrong? I then hear the banging on the doors of the auditorium, and I run downstairs to see a hundred people banging on the door. I quickly opened the doors to let the people in and see my coach running inside for safety. 

I was scared, and I ran to the safest place possible, which was the sound booth again. I start to pace back and forth because I did not know what was going on ― and the people in the audience saw me. They saw me, and they panicked because I was matching the same description of Nikolas Cruz. I had the same clothes, same hair color, same facial structure somewhat. ... And they reported me. 

I was just hiding up there. I had no idea what was going on. Then the door started to rattle. At first, the only thought that came to my mind was,“I’m going to die, the shooter is going to kill me.” But then SWAT comes in, and I thought they were here to rescue me. But then as I go down the stairs, I find out that I was wrong.

I found out that they thought it was me that killed the 17 people. I go down the stairs, they tell me to put my hands up. I, being the fool that I was, tried putting my phone back in my pocket. They demanded again, and I, not trying to be one of those news stories of someone dying wrongfully because they refused to put their hands up, I just dropped my phone at that moment and kept going. 

When I went out those doors, I had six SWAT members pointing their guns at me. I was tossed to the ground. I was unjustly cuffed and held at gunpoint for the degrading and depreciating action of the disturbed individual Nikolas Cruz.

I was then put in a corner with a policewoman guarding me. I knew any move I made would be the end of my life. Throughout the entire event, I only felt two things: I felt fear, as I did not know my future. I did not know if i was going to be let go. I did not know where the terrorist was. ... A the second thing was guilt. 

Prado and dozens of other students who survived last week’s massacre met with state lawmakers Wednesday, demanding they take action to stop gun violence and holding a rally and press conference to raise awareness for their cause.

“I am here to demand change from our government because the lives lost, who shall not be lost in vain, shall then be used as a catalyst for change in our country today,” Prado said.

“We’ll make change in our country, and if not today, tomorrow. And if not tomorrow, the day after that and the day after that until we achieve the change that we want in this country ― until the day that safety is preserved in all schools in our beloved country of America,” he continued. “We students will keep fighting for our right to live.”

Prado also memorialized his slain friend Nicholas Dworet, who was killed during the shooting. 

“On that day, we lost Nicholas, captain of the swim team and a hero,” Prado said, adding that Dworet aspired to be an Olympic swimmer. “He was seen pushing another student out of the way when the terrorist shot into his classroom. ... He was the heart and soul of the swimming team ― both in and out of school ― because he was friendly to all and mean to none.”

 

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