At 2:19 pm on Valentine’s Day, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz arrived at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School with an AR-15 rifle, a vest, ammunition, and a plan. He opened fire on school grounds before entering the school’s freshman building. He shot through hallways and five classrooms.
Cruz then left his weaponry and vest at the scene and blended in with other students fleeing the scene. After fleeing, he went to a local Walmart, McDonalds, and Subway before being arrested by police while walking down a residential street at 3:41 pm.
Armed school deputy Scot Peterson has resigned following controversy over his actions during the shooting. Peterson was criticized by many, including President Donald Trump for not entering the building. He took cover outside although he was aware of what was happening inside and was the only armed personnel already at the scene.
A student who recorded the incident was slammed by people on social media claiming that students should have been calling 911 rather than recording. With 911, the police department, and news networks being jammed with countless calls, multitudes of calls to these numbers can actually hinder communication by slowing the network.
It is unclear the motive behind the videotaping, but it is a possibility that the intent was to gather evidence on the gunman.
The previous year, the F.B.I. had received concerns about a comment made on YouTube under Cruz’s name, but were unable to link the comment to Cruz himself. He had two social media accounts which included many pictures of guns. His Instagram accounts also alluded to violence against animals, including a picture of a slaughtered toad.
President Trump has responded by mentioning mental health and school safety as top priority, but contradicts his own statements with planned budget cuts. His latest budget would lower funding for Medicaid, a program that funds mental health care for many who are unable to afford it. The budget cut would also span to an education grant program which supports safer schools, reducing funding by 36 percent.
17 lives were taken that day; 14 of them were student lives. Some people have claimed that 17 isn’t that many, because it is a smaller death toll than the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. 17 is not just a number, they are 17 people who had their lives taken from them on February 14th.
49-year-old Chris Hixon, an athletic director, a wrestling coach, a Naval reservist, a husband, and a man who many described as selfless was killed during the shooting.
37-year-old assistant football coach Aaron Feis died attempting to prevent the gunfire from reaching his students by blocking the bullets himself. He was rushed to surgery after suffering from gunshot wounds, but didn’t survive. Denis Lehito, a football program spokeswoman said he, “died the way he lived – he put himself second.”
35-year-old geography teacher Scott Beigel died while attempting to rush students back into the classroom. Many students spoke out saying they wouldn’t be alive if it weren’t for Beigel’s actions.
18-year-old Meadow Pollack, who had been accepted at Lynn University in Boca Raton, was killed. Her best friend asked for prayers while her and Pollack’s family mourn their loss.
17-year-old Helena Ramsay’s life was also lost during the shooting. She was a senior who worked hard in academics and would have begun college next year.
17-year-old Joaquin Oliver, who was born in Venezuela but became a naturalized citizen in 2017, was also killed during the shooting. His last social media post was a post expressing his love for his girlfriend on December 31st.
17-year-old Nicholas Dworet, a swimmer recruited to swim for the University of Indianapolis was killed. Robert L. Manuel spoke about Dworet, reminding us that the tragedy not only Parkland, FL, but also those who are connected to the victims.
16-year-old Carmen Schentrup, a National Merit Scholar semifinalist was also killed. Her community and family are mourning.
15-year-old Luke Hoyer’s family was given the news that their son was a victim of the shooting much later that night, around one in the morning. His family attempted to keep their hopes up, but the call confirmed what his parents had been worried about the entire day. His family described Hoyer as always happy, very close with his family, and respectful.
14-year-old Peter Wang, a cadet in the school’s JROTC program, was killed un uniform while holding a door open and attempting to usher students and staff to safety. Many credit Wang with saving their lives. A white house petition, which currently has 138,972 signatures, is calling for Wang to receive a full honors military burial.
14-year-old Alaina Petty, a young girl who loved volunteering and was also member of the JROTC program at her school, was a victim of the shooting. She was described as vibrant and determined.
14-year-old Alex Shachter, a member of the school’s orchestra and marching band was working toward college before he was killed during the shooting. A Go Fund Me page intended to be a scholarship fund for Shachter is now being used toward a scholarship in his honor, better security in schools, and the Stoneman Douglas Marching Eagles.
14-year-old Alyssa Alhadeff, a soccer player for the school’s travel team was killed in the shooting. Her mother rushed to school when she heard the news of the shooting, but knew in her heart that her daughter was gone.
14-year-old Cara Loughran, a dancer for the Drake School of Irish Dance in South Florida, was also among the students who were killed. Her family has received support and are seeking to celebrate her life.
14-year-old Gina Montalto, an artist and a member of the winter guard, was killed in the shooting. Many spoke about her kind heart and creative mind. The Winter Guard International was quoted saying, “no student should ever go to school afraid,” after mourning the death of Montalto.
14-year-old Jaime Guttenberg’s life was also lost on February 14th. Her family spoke out saying they are thankful for the support, but are struggling to respond individually.
14-year-old Martin Duque Anguiano was also killed in the shooting. His older brother, Miguel set up a Go Fund Me page to offset the funeral costs.
With a rising number of school related shootings, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students, and many concerned citizens are calling for a change. Many are posting, writing, and saying the words “never again” as a movement to work towards preventing other school shootings from happening.