Watch CBSN Live

Florida student survived shooting just as her grandfather did 70 years ago

Student interviewed classmates during rampage
Student interviewed classmates during rampage... 06:36

CAMDEN, N.J. -- A student who survived the shooting at a Florida school hid in a closet -- just like her grandfather did to escape a 1949 shooting rampage in New Jersey. Carly Novell, a 17-year-old senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, tweeted a photo and said she hid in a closet just like her grandfather, Charles Cohen, did nearly 70 years ago when he was 12 and a gunman killed his family.

Howard Unruh gunned down 13 people, including Cohen's parents and paternal grandmother, during what was called his "Walk of Death" through Camden. Diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic, Unruh spent the rest of his life in a state psychiatric hospital. He confessed to the killings but was never tried. He died in 2009.

"These events shouldn't be repetitive," Novell tweeted. "Something has to change." 

Cohen's daughter, Lori Greenberg, tells the Courier-Post of Cherry Hill her father didn't like talking about the attack with his family.

"He wanted to live the rest of his life and not let this define him," Greenberg said. "But I think not talking about it and letting it be repressed is much worse."

She said her niece, Carly, met with counselors and is "doing OK" after Wednesday's shooting left 17 dead. "She's a remarkable young lady, but this is hard on her," Greenberg said. "Carly did lose a friend. A friend of hers saw two people shot dead."

Florida mom's emotional message to Trump 01:38

Novell told HuffPost that she didn't even learn about the Camden killings until after her grandfather died, also in 2009. "But family was so incredibly important to him because of what happened," she said. "He wasn't as lucky as me."

In 1999, Cohen told The Associated Press that the killings haunted him.

"My memories don't dim," Cohen said. "Do you know how many times in 50 years I've relived that story? It could have been yesterday."

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue