Anna lost three friends, saw shooter
An Irish-American teenager whose father was born in Roscommon town credits her teacher with saving her life after narrowly evading the shooter responsible for the deaths of seventeen people in a Florida school on St. Valentine’s Day.
Anna Crean, whose grandmother lives in Roscommon town, survived the latest mass shooting in an American school – and the brave teenager has emerged as one of the most passionate and articulate advocates for a change in gun laws in the aftermath of the tragedy.
Anna (15) holidayed in Roscommon town at Christmas. Her father, John, is a native of Lisnamult, Roscommon. Her grandmother, Annie, lives in Roscommon and her relations here include her uncle, Michael, a familiar face to many through his work in Timothy’s Londis.
Three of Anna’s friends were killed in the shooting and two bullets ripped through the glass of the door behind which Anna and others were hiding at the height of the carnage.
Anna’s father, John Crean, is a native of Lisnamult, Roscommon. He moved to America in 1990, meeting his future wife, Rachel, there in 1992. John and Rachel (a native of Dublin) married in 1996. After a number of years in New York, they moved to Florida in 2003, when Anna – their only child – was a baby.
The first Michael Crean knew of the drama involving his niece was when he received a call from his brother in Florida.
“I was just back in from training the (Roscommon Gaels) U-16s when I got a call from John. He asked ‘Did you hear what happened?’ Then he said ‘There’s been a shooting at Anna’s school’ ”.
Anna’s school is Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. On St. Valentine’s Day, a young gunman entered the school and began shooting.
The first her parents knew was when Anna sent a text to her mother.
‘There’s a shooter in my hallway and he shot through our classroom window. I’m okay but it’s real and I’ve never been more scared in my life’.
When her mother texted her daughter back, she got no reply.
It later emerged that Anna and some classmates were being ushered through an area of the school when the shooter approached on a stairway. A teacher led the terrified students into another classroom. The shooter fired two shots through the window of that room. A short while later, Anna saw the bodies of two of her friends and had to step over an abandoned gun. An hour or so after the shooting began, Anna was reunited with her mum and dad, who were frantically waiting with other parents outside the school.
“Anna was unhurt but obviously very, very shook” Michael Crean says of his niece. “It was an unbelievable, harrowing experience, but she’s a resilient girl. John (her dad) was able to reassure us that she was okay. Unfortunately, three of her classmates were amongst the seventeen people who were killed”.
Speaking of her friends who died, Anna told American media: “I guess my teacher closed the door before they could make it back in because there were just too many kids to make it through a small door and they just tried to keep running, but I guess there were too many people and there wasn’t enough time and they passed away…I’m going to miss them a lot”.
Poignantly, she added: “All existing school drama has completely disappeared. Everyone is looking at life in a different way and trying to spread love”.