Parkland shooting survivor visits Greenfield cinema to speak before documentary

  • From left, UMass student and Parkland shooting survivor Hannah Karcinell and Four Rivers Charter Public School student activists Gina Magin, Breanne Daehne and Ella Parker at Greenfield Garden Cinemas on Saturday. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • UMass student and Parkland shooting survivor Hannah Karcinell speaks about her experience to the audience at Greenfield Garden Cinemas before a showing of the documentary “After Parkland” on Saturday. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • UMass student and Parkland shooting survivor Hannah Karcinell speaks about her experience to the audience at Greenfield Garden Cinemas before a showing of the documentary “After Parkland” on Saturday. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • UMass student and Parkland shooting survivor Hannah Karcinell and Four Rivers Charter Public School student activists Gina Magin, Breanne Daehne and Ella Parker set up a booth prior to the showing of “After Parkland” at Greenfield Garden Cinemas on Saturday. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Staff Writer
Published: 2/23/2020 11:11:57 PM

GREENFIELD — Valentine’s Day used to be one of Hannah Karcinell’s favorite holidays. The cookies and chocolate-covered strawberries and the love in the air were always special to her.

But Feb. 14 will never again be the same, as it marks the anniversary of the most traumatic day of her life, when someone she loved was taken from her.

Karcinell was one of roughly 3,000 students in Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., in 2018, when a 19-year-old former student armed with an AR-15-style rifle, gas mask, smoke grenades and magazines of ammunition opened fire on students and teachers shortly before dismissal. Seventeen people, including Karcinell’s close friend Nick Dworet, were killed and another 17 were injured in a massacre that lasted 6 minutes and 20 seconds. Karcinell, now a political science major at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, has since taken on a life of activism in an effort to make sure no one forgets the lives taken and the ones shattered as a result.

The 20-year-old was a special guest at Greenfield Garden Cinemas on Saturday, speaking briefly about her experience before a showing of “After Parkland,” a 90-minute documentary film about the school shooting and its aftermath. Karcinell was not involved in the film’s production. Before the showing began, she was introduced to the noontime moviegoers by local activists and Four Rivers Charter Public School students Ella Parker and Gina Magin. Karcinell read from her phone and detailed the lingering psychological effects the shooting has had on her. She explained fire alarms give her panicky flashbacks and whenever a fellow student arrives late to class she watches them like a hawk until they sit down to ensure they don’t have a firearm.

The film, directed by Jake Lefferman and Emily Taguchi, follows some of the shooting’s survivors and family members of survivors and some of the deceased. Featured subjects include students David Hogg and Brooke Harrison and parent Andrew Pollack, father of victim Meadow Pollack.

Karcinell hopes people will never forget the permanent toll shootings take on survivors and said “After Parkland” helps shed light on their stories.

Isaac Mass, who took over ownership of Greenfield Garden Cinemas on Nov. 15, met Karcinell near the ticket booth and thanked her for coming. He told the Greenfield Recorder he opted to show “After Parkland” because it is an important film.

“We wanted to bring in some documentaries to create political discourse in the community,” he said, adding that his theater is also showing “Created Equal,” a documentary about conservative Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.

Karcinell said she was in a sociology class in an adjacent building at Parkland when the bullets started flying.

She said many students ran to shelter in a nearby Walmart, the same store where, unknown to anyone, shooting suspect Nikolas Cruz purchased a drink from a Subway restaurant at 2:50 p.m. Cruz had left the scene by blending in with fleeing students. Karcinell said SWAT team members came into the store and told students to leave because it could have been the next target.

After the students’ bags were checked, Karcinell went to find her mother.

“So then I saw one of my friends and she stopped me and said that she saw her teacher get killed in front of her,” she recalled. “And I saw another girl come out — and I didn’t know this girl — she had blood on her dress and I said to her, ‘Can you describe the person whose blood that was, if you can?’ because I knew she wasn’t going to want to say the name of the person it was after seeing him killed in front of her.

“So she said, ‘He had blond hair, blue eyes, and he was the captain of the swim team,’” she continued. “And that’s how I knew it was my friend Nick.’”

Karcinell said she went home and cried and watched the news.

“When I went home, there were all these Valentine’s Day decorations and stuff. So it was really tough,” she said. “And just being in my house was hard, too, because Nick had been to my house a bunch of times.”

Karcinell said she was initially hesitant to share her story with the world but first spoke out the day before Nick’s funeral and she participated in the March for Our Lives, a Washington demonstration Parkland students led a month after the shooting in order to call for comprehensive gun control legislation. She said the march was particularly difficult for her because it was held on March 24 — her friend Nick’s 18th birthday.

Reach Domenic Poli at: dpoli@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 262.




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