The last time he was at his high school, freshman Kyle Laman came face to face with the gunman whose rampage would turn his Parkland, Florida, campus into a killing field.
This week, the teenager, whose description of the shooter helped police to capture the gunman, returned to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, his wheelchair pushed by the officer who ferried him away from gunfire that left 17 people dead.
Kyle, who endured three surgeries and weeks in the hospital after he was shot in the foot during the February 14 attack, called his return to school “really overwhelming and, well, mostly fun.”
Aiding his homecoming was Coral Springs police Sgt. Jeff Heinrich, whom Kyle encountered as he ran on his wrecked foot away from the mass shooter he’d just watched unleash violent fury with an AR-15-style rifle.
“I was able to tell the police the type of clothing he was wearing, the type of gun, the optics and the magazines that he was using, where he was located,” Kyle told CNN’s Alisyn Camerota on Friday on “New Day.”
‘A big, comforting place’
Going back to that place, Kyle said, is “more comforting than it is nerve-racking because there’s so (many) people that been through a lot of stuff, and they’ve seen things, and we’re all here for everyone.”
“It’s all, like, a big, comforting place now,” he said.
As for the national student gun-control movement his classmates have spearheaded since the shooting, “I think it’s great,” Kyle said.
“It means that we have a voice and that we can make a difference,” he said. “I think this turned out to be for the best — but not in that way — but I think it turned out, like, there’s so much good rather than negativity.”
At home, Kyle’s mom said her family is “getting back to a little bit of the new normal.”
“Everything’s been so surreal and overwhelming, and we’ve been concentrating so much on his healing,” Marie Laman said on CNN. “So, I feel like we’re getting closer to our regular, normal lifestyle, which is nice because we miss that.”
Laman praised hospital and school staffs, doctors and her community for their support as she’s tried to keep her family’s life “as light as we can.” The family still faces mounting medical bills, which strangers are helping pay for through a charity website.
“It is a horrible situation, but you see so much more good in the world than you do bad,” Laman said. “It stinks that it takes something so tragic to see all that.”