Students at Strozier library were forced to take an unwanted study break after hearing gunshots and sirens, but one of the most interesting aspects of their nightmare was how it played out over social media.
“That’s literally how my family found out I was involved,” said Frazaie Mathis, a Florida State University student and eye witness. “I basically put my experience on Twitter and put #prayforFSU.”
Mathis further indicated that the posts of her first hand experience garnered attention from her family and friends, prompting them to contact her and inquire about her safety.
Before Mathis had a chance to tweet, she encountered the shooter, Myron May, who potentially could have determined her fate in a matter of seconds.
“I was exiting and going in my book bag to get my card and that’s when I heard the gunshots,” Mathis recalled. “I just sat there.”
She further added, “The guy that was working at the front desk was unfortunately the one who got shot, and he came limping towards me.”
Mathis said that she started backing away from the victim because she could see that he was shot. She further added that the gunshot wound on the victim’s inner-upper thigh forced him to the floor.
“I turned around and started running telling people on the first floor that there’s a shooter, and we probably need to go up,” Mathis said.
Unlike Mathis, others got a second hand experience from the raw cell phone video that was shot by one of the students in Strozier library. It went viral online.
The video illustrated an official from the FSU Police Department speaking over the intercom indicating that there was a shooter in the library.
“Stay where you are; we will be coming to each floor clearing and taking care of anybody,” said the unidentified man over the intercom. “If anybody has a victim or if anybody has been shot, call 911 on your cell phone.”
Subsequently after viewing the video, some witnesses tweeted their opinions, emotions and additional information as the scene unfolded. That’s when #prayforFSU was created.
One of the most heart-wrenching posts tagged with #prayforFSU was a picture of a text message that read, “There’s a man with a gun in the library. I love you.”
“A lot of people tweeted pictures of the FSU alerts and were instagramming some of the people and chaos in the library,” said Devon Ford, FSU student and eye witness.
According to Ford, the FSU alert was also posted to many of the witness’ Instagram accounts. It read, “*FSU ALERT!* DANGEROUS SITUATION! Main Campus- Tallahassee. Seek shelter immediately, away from doors and windows.”
Steven Dawson, one of Ford’s fraternity brothers, was also in the library. He said that he was the one who always showed support by liking posts on social media that dealt with praying for other school tragedies. Never once, he said, did he ever think that he would be a part of a school tragedy that warranted social media attention.
“You can just assume that you’re invincible and that things won’t happen to you,” said Dawson. “One minute you’re writing a mediocre history paper at like midnight and the next thing you know you’re running for you life as a guy is trying to take out, you know, everyone in the library.”
One of the most intensifying images on Facebook was shot and posted by FSU student Jason Derfuss. He captured images of the bullet itself and of his book bag and two books that were penetrated by the bullet. Derfuss claimed the shooter targeted him first.
“The shot I heard behind me I did not feel, nor did it hit me at all,” Derfuss posted to his Facebook page. “He [Myron May] was about five feet from me, but he hit my books. Books one minute earlier I had checked out of the library, books that should not have stopped the bullet.”
Further in his post, Derfuss credited his livelihood to God.
“The truth is I was almost killed tonight and God intervened,” Derfuss wrote. “I know conceptually he can do all things, but to physically witness the impossible and to be surrounded by such grace is indescribable.”
Derfuss ended his post with, “To God be the glory, forever and ever, Amen.”