Florida school shooting survivor with central Wisconsin ties spe - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

Florida school shooting survivor with central Wisconsin ties speaks out


A student who survived a shooting that killed 17 people at a high school in Parkland, Fla. spoke out about the tragedy. 

Thomas Holgate is a junior at Stoneman Douglas High School. His parents, Nancy and Tom Holgate, met in Stevens Point where they eventually got married, before moving to Parkland with Thomas and his brother. 

The Holgate's visit Central Wisconsin from time to time, most recently for the holidays. Just a month and a half later, their oldest son was one of many who witnessed tragedy unfold. 

"We thought it was a drill for probably the first hour," Thomas said. 

He remembers hiding in the school's auditorium during the Valentine's Day shooting

"I sent them a text just saying I love you guys, there's an active shooter on campus, I hope everything goes well," Thomas recalled.

The Holgates said they didn't know if they would see each other ever again. 

"I never thought I would have to send my parents a text saying I might be killed," Thomas said. "And it was just really scary for me to even have to be in the situation, where I might have to tell my parents for the last time that I love them, it was really scary."
His classmate, Kyle Kashuv, also recalled living out the nightmare.     

"I really realized that something truly bad had happened when I heard ambulances," Kashuv said. "I was really nervous but after awhile I hid in a closet and I don't know how but I knew I would be okay, I hid in the closet, and it was really dark."

When gun shots first rang out, Kyle thought it was textbooks being slammed on the floor. 

"I didn't know the severity of the situation, I didn't think it would possibly be a shooting, a real attempted school shooting," he said. 

Thomas and Kyle both said the event has brought the community together. 

They said returning to school will likely be tough.

"I know that going back to school and walking through those halls is a necessary part of healing so I'm not looking forward to it but I know it needs to happen," Thomas said. 

The school is scheduled to hold an orientation for the parents and students on Sunday. 

Classes are set to begin on Monday, for what will be a transition week for teachers, students and staff. 

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