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'Don't Blink': Nashville mass shooting hero Officer Collazo remembered by English teacher

WZTV - Nashville 3/31/2023 Kat Gerasimenko
© Provided by WZTV - Nashville

"Don't blink."

Covenant School shooting hero Officer Michael Collazo chose that Kenny Chesney lyric about not letting life simply flash before your eyes as his Senior quote when he was a student at La Vergne High School.

On Monday, Mar. 27, three kids and three staff members lost their lives in an unforgivable act of violence at an elementary school in Nashville. 

A 28-year-old former student fired shots in the school building, killing six, but no more lives were lost thanks to Officers Michael Collazo and Rex Englebert.

The two officers responded to the 911 calls, taking out the mass school shooter within 14 minutes.

They are hailed as heroes for their act of bravery, and those who know them are certainly proud.

In particular, Officer Collazo's English teacher remembers him from his high school days at La Vergne.

Natasha Vaitekunas Willis speaks about Collazo in a way leading one to imagine an outgoing and reliable high school student, a leader.

He was one of those students that is the perfect example of a high school student," she said. "He was very outgoing, hardworking, had a lot of school spirit.

She says she is "unbelievably proud" of Collazo and "honored" to know the officer.

Willis recalls memories of Collazo and his grade school friends, how they always stuck together.

 ..There were three boys. Blake, Michael, and Jimmy were like The Three Musketeers. They were inseparable.

She cites Collazo as a student heavily involved in extra-curricular activities, very active in school life.

He was on my Student Council at the time and helped me plan pep rallies and kind of led pep rallies. He was one of those kids that was involved in almost every aspect of high school. He was on the wrestling team, and involved in every aspect.

The high school English teacher ultimately says she is proud to know Collazo and that she taught the man who answered a call to action in an unbelievable tragedy.

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