Who is Brittany Sinitch? Teacher recalls Nikolas Cruz's shooting 'wouldn't stop', drowned out 911 call
Brittany Sinitch's 911 call during the shooting was not audible as the sound of gunfire drowned her voice
FORT LAUDERDALE, FLORIDA: A jury is set to determine if confessed Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz will be sentenced to death. On Monday, July 18, opening arguments in the penaty phase of Cruz's trial began. The trial is expected to take several months, at the end of which the jury's decision has to be unanimous to sentence him to death.
Cruz, then 19, shot dead 14 students and three staff members at his former school, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, in South Florida, on February 14, 2018. Describing the massacre as a "planned, systematic ... mass murder", Prosecutor Mike Satz said in his opening statement, "Three days before the massacre, Cruz made a video saying, 'My name is Nik. I'm going to be the next school shooter of 2018. My goal is at least 20 people with an AR-15 and some tracer rounds. It's gonna be a big event and when you see me on the news you'll know who I am. You're all gonna die. ... I can't wait.'"
A teacher at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Brittany Sinitch was the prosecution's first witness who was called to the stand. Sinitch described how gunfire simply did not seem to stop. Sinitch's 911 call during the shooting was not audible as the sound of gunfire drowned her voice. Sinitch said she called 911 after "I heard the loudest sound" of gunfire. "It just wouldn't stop," she said, claiming gunfire "kept going and going and going." In the 911 call, which was played in court, the operator can be heard saying, "Hello? You still there?" "Talk to me, please!" as Sinitch remained inaudible.
Who is Brittany Sinitch?
Brittany Sinitch, an alumna of Stoneman Douglas, said that her career in teaching began in 2017, less than a year before the massacre. She is an educator and the founder of Unbreakable, an organization that has "mission to help individuals and communities heal, while finding what makes them unbreakable", according to its website.
"From a young age, I was fascinated with the world of education. I literally used to set up my toy room to look like a classroom. My teacher outfit was a Princess Belle dress, my picture book became my white board (my mom was not happy to find me writing in them), and I always took an apple from the kitchen to put on my desk--which was really an Easy Bake Oven. After college, I followed my heart and went back to teach at my alma mater, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. This was truly my home away from home and one of my favorite places in the world," Brittany says on the website.
She adds, "On February 14, 2018, I survived a school shooting that devastated my small town, Parkland, Florida. Reaching out for help was scary. I was terrified to talk about the tragedy, much less relive it. But, I realized that in order to be a source of support for my students, I had to have support myself. I got help and learned that it's not necessary to always go through everything by yourself. At my first EMDR appointment, I sat down and shared what occured from the moment that I woke up to the moment that I got home that day. My therapist then looked at me and said, how did you feel in that moment with your students when the light from the window touched your back? I looked at her, without skipping a beat and said, unbreakable." "Now, I want to help others who feel broken, hurt, or lost find what makes them unbreakable too," she said.
After her testimony, Sinitch wrote on Instagram, "Today, I testified and briefly recounted my experience on February 14, 2018. Seconds before entering the room, I just broke down. I was so afraid. I was afraid to be inside the same room as the person who ripped so much away from all of us. I was afraid to face a jury and attempt to recount what happened that day. I was afraid to relive the worst day of my life. I was afraid to go backwards in my healing."
"I was 22 when this happened and I just know she would be so proud of me today. We can be afraid and brave at the same time and I think that is what happened today," she added. "No one should ever have to go through this and no one should ever have to be this brave. Please continue to keep the families of the victims in your hearts along with the survivors, staff members, and many others within the community. This is going to be a long journey and I pray it brings us closure."