Tragedy Strikes Florida

Posted by on Feb 21, 2018 in Top Stories

On Valentine’s Day, 17 people were killed and another 14 seriously injured during a mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

What Happened?

Low-angle, full-length view of students walking down the hallway of a school, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA

High school students in Florida were the latest high profile victims of a school shooting in America. Credit: Ron Nickel/Design Pics

The suspected gunman, nineteen-year-old Nikolas Cruz, was a former student. Cruz entered the school just after 2:00pm on Wednesday. He pulled fire alarms all over the school to lure students out of their classrooms, where he then opened fire with a semi-automatic AR-15 assault rifle for about three minutes. An hour later, Cruz was captured by police in Coral Springs, about a mile away.

Who Was Killed?

Alyssa Alhadeff, 14, was a star soccer player. Martin Duque Anguiano, 14, was described by his family as “sweet” and “loving.” Nicholas Dworet, a 17-year-old senior, was a swimmer who had been recruited by the University of Indianapolis. Jaime Guttenberg, 14, was a loving daughter and sister. Luke Hoyer, 15, is remembered for his smile and his positive attitude.

Cara Loughran, 14, was an Irish dancer. Gina Montalto, 14, was a member of the school’s marching band winter guard. Joaquin Oliver, 17, was born in Venezuela and has lived in the U.S. since he was three years old. He became a citizen last year. Alaina Petty, 14, was active with her church and other volunteer groups.

Meadow Pollack, 18, had been accepted at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida. Helena Ramsay, 17, was a bright, quiet student. Alex Schachter, 14, was a member of the school marching band and orchestra. His family has created a scholarship fund in his honor. Carmen Schentrup, 16, was one of only ten students in her school to be selected as a National Merit Scholar semifinalist. Peter Wang, 15, was a member of the ROTC program and the beloved son of restaurant owners.

Several faculty members were killed as well. Scott Beigel, 35, was a geography teacher at the school who was shot while trying to get his students safely back inside the classroom. Aaron Feis, 37, was an assistant football coach who was shot while physically shielding students from gunfire. Chris Hixon, 49, was the school’s athletic director and wrestling coach, as well as an Iraq veteran.

What’s Next?

Cruz was charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder and is currently being held without bond. His lawyer has said that he may plead guilty to avoid the death penalty.

In the wake of the shootings, many of the survivors have chosen to spoke out. They have shared their terrifying stories of that day and are calling on legislators to enact stricter laws to prevent gun violence. One student, Emma Gonzalez, is already drawing national attention for her passionate speech in which she condemns lawmakers for their lack of action and demands change to prevent future school shootings. Experts estimate that 150,000 U.S. students have directly experienced a school shooting since the infamous attack at Columbine High School in 1999.

A march to demand action on guns is planned on Washington D.C. on Saturday, March 24. On April 20 (the 20th anniversary of the Columbine shooting), students all over the nation plan to walk out of their schools and not enter again until Congress takes some action against gun violence.

What Do You Think? Would you walk out of your school on April 20 to protest gun violence in the U.S.? Why or why not?