PROVIDENCE, Rhode Island (CBS) — A football coach from Nichols College was inside the Florida school as a gunman took 17 lives Wednesday.

Paul Brower, who is also Assistant Dean for the Dudley school, was hiding inside a coach’s office when tragedy struck.

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Stoneman Douglas High School was Brower’s last school visit of the day. He was wrapping up with prospective athletes at in Florida.

“There was some radio chatter about a firecracker, somebody said that isn’t a firecracker. Moments later there was a code red code red,” said Brower after his flight landed in Providence Thursday.

Paul Brower from Nichols College returns home after the school shooting in Florida (WBZ-TV)

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“One of the hardest moments was that they learned their coach Coach Feis had been shot. At that point, it’s a head football coach and four players learning about someone was very important in their life.”

They opened the door only once and heard gunfire.

“We watched a young man come right across the window we were standing near and jog into the middle of the field and start heading to evacuate with other students. About two or three minutes after that happened we learned that was the shooter.”

Now home safe, Brower says he won’t forget the tremendous professionalism he witnessed from teachers and coaches.

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“Having seen it firsthand from the inside, I believe that school really did a lot of things right but unfortunately this young man knew where he was going and knew it from the inside.”