PARKLAND, Fla. (CBSNewYork) — Parents and guardians in Parkland, Florida experienced fear and heartbreak Wednesday after a gunman opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, killing at least 17 people.

Relatives waited with bated breath as many had to wait to find out if their kids were among the victims.

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Some stared at their phones for agonizingly long, hearing nothing. One father described the text he finally received from his child.

“‘We’re in a real code red, dad. Get me ASAP. It’s not a drill, I hear gunshots’,” the father read aloud. “‘We just got a code red notification so come get me ASAP there are gunshots at our school, help. Someone died, come now’.”

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“It’s just different when it hits home, ya know? You read about it, you see it when it happens but when it’s your backyard, when it’s your child that’s hiding… it’s just sort of different,” one mother said.

“Traumatic for, forget the parents, the kids,” another woman said. “I can’t even imagine, when I finally see him again today at whatever time they let them out it’s certainly going to be a huge trauma for the kids. I don’t know what’s going to happen with the school. We always felt so safe in Parkland, Parkland schools… so that’s our huge concern.”

Parents say during the incident they were desperately trying to reach out to their children, but the kids were texting back telling them they had to remain quiet. Many added they’ll hug their kids extra tight when they get home.