Santa Fe teen says best friend saved her life, sacrificed his own by shoving her into closet: 'He's a hero'

Ten were killed in the Friday morning high school massacre.

May 22, 2018, 7:11 PM

Courtney Marshall, 15, clutched her cellphone as she spoke with ABC News, watching videos of her art classmates just a few weeks ago, laughing and joking and primping for the camera.

Now, half of them are dead or recovering from gunshot wounds, Courtney included, after Friday's mass shooting at Santa Fe High School in Texas.

"We couldn’t get the back door open and we tried to break through the glass windows in the back of the class but couldn’t," she told ABC News.

Courtney's best friend, Christian Garcia, "grabbed me and my teacher and got us into the closet," she said. "[The gunman] just shot into the closet. I saw my teacher just die in front of me and I just saw my best friend die in front of me.”

Students are escorted out of Santa Fe High School after retrieving their belongings in Santa Fe, Texas, May 22, 2018.
Jonathan Bachman/Reuters

She said the suspected gunman, 17-year-old student Dimitrios Pagourtzis, looked her right in the eye and kept firing.

In the frenzy, Courtney managed to call her mother, who told her to run. As her teacher and friends died around her, Courtney said she bolted for the door while the gunman reloaded.

“When I saw the door open and he was reloading, I just ran. I fell down outside and another boy came and helped me up and we just ran and ran," she said. "He was just firing at us. I didn’t even know that I had been hit until I reached my uncle’s truck.”

Students are escorted out of Santa Fe High School after retrieving their belongings, in Santa Fe, Texas, on May 22, 2018.
Jonathan Bachman/Reuters

Ten people were killed and 13 others wounded in the two art rooms.

Mourners visit a memorial in front of Santa Fe High School on May 22, 2018, in Santa Fe, Texas.
Scott Olson/Getty Images

Those remaining art students are in a group chat trying to figure out how to handle the carnage they saw, Courtney said.

She said they want to return to the art rooms for closure on Wednesday.

Courtney said she is speaking out so her friend Christian's parents know he saved her life and that he tried to save their teacher’s life too by pulling them into the closet.

"Christian saved my life -- he’s a hero," she said.

Courtney's mother, Candy Marshall, said she doesn’t know what the answer is to the school violence, but she knows she'll never forget her daughter's phone call and the line going dead.

When Courtney had reached the hallway, her call to her mother dropped, leaving Marshall in an agonizing wait to know if Courtney made it out of school alive.

“It’s a call I will never forget," Marshall said. "All I can do is think about those parents whose kids didn’t make it out.”