Parkland Shooting and the Aftermath


Fabrice Florin via Flickr

A vigil for the victims of the Parkland Shooting.

February 14th was Valentine’s Day, but for the Parkland community, it was a day of horror. At 2:35 p.m., a former student opened fire in the freshman building of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, killing 14 students and three faculty members with an AR-15  rifle. The school was on lockdown for several hours as police officers chased down the gunman, identified the victims, and secured the school. Nikolas Cruz, 19, shot for six minutes, eventually discarding his vest and gun to blend in with a group of unsuspecting students. Police identified and apprehended him at 3:41 p.m.

Throughout the rest of the day, students were evacuated from the school to a nearby Marriott hotel as parents searched to find their children. Parents, students, families, and friends, also took to social media to post pictures of people who were missing. By the next morning, all 17 victims were identified. The victims were: Jaime Guttenberg, Martin Duque, Alyssa Alhadeff, Aaron Feis, Gina Montalto, Nicholas Dworet, Luke Hoyer, Carmen Schentrup, Meadow Pollack, Joaquin Oliver, Alaina Petty, Cara Loughran, Helena Ramsay, Alex Schachter, Chris Hixon, Scott Beigel, and Peter Wang.

Coach Aaron Feis, Athletic Director Chris Hixon, and Human Geography teacher Mr. Scott Beigel (who previously taught at Pine Crest Boca), were all killed while trying to shield their students from gunfire.

The next day, two candlelight vigils were held at Pine Trails Park, drawing an estimated crowd of over 8,000 people. Pine Crest sophomore Brooke Cordoba, a former swim teammate of Nicholas Dworet, spent the day with friends preparing food to distribute as people paid their respects at the memorial service.

At the vigil, Congressman Ted Deutch addressed attendees and renewed his commitment to fight for gun reform in the House of Representatives. His plan would include a ban on assault weapons, mandatory background checks, and legislation that closed existing loopholes in gun laws. He stressed the importance of grassroots involvement and thought that with a strong and continued public push for change, Congress could be moved to pass substantive gun reform legislation.

Student survivors of the shooting, including former Pine Crest student Cameron Kasky, quickly took the media by storm to promote legislative and cultural change by creating the #NeverAgain movement; a nationwide protest, March for Our Lives, has been planned for March 24th. Kasky and his fellow student activists, including Emma González and David Hogg, will lead the protest in Washington D.C. Other affiliated marches are planned across the country, including a widely anticipated event in Parkland.

Eight days after the shooting, CNN hosted a Town Hall at the BB&T center attended by many Pine Crest students and teachers. The Town Hall, mediated by Jake Tapper, had two panels that included Congressman Ted Deutch, Senator Marco Rubio, Senator Bill Nelson, Broward Sheriff Scott Israel, and NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch. Though the audience was discouraged from booing and heckling, both Senator Rubio and NRA spokeswoman Loesch received boos for their lack of support for gun reform. In a memorable exchange with Cameron Kasky, Senator Rubio refused to no longer take NRA contributions to his campaign.

Since the shooting, the main media coverage of the tragedy has focused on the victims, the survivors, and their efforts to lobby for new legislation. However, there were several unfounded allegations leveled against the activists, especially David Hogg. He and his classmates, who were called paid “crisis actors,” were quick to shut down the accusations and move on with their cause.

The students who have started this movement have indicated that they won’t stop until gun laws are changed across the entire country. In Cameron Kasky’s words, “This isn’t about red and blue. We can’t boo people because they’re Democrats and boo people because they’re Republicans. Anyone who is willing to show change, no matter where they’re from, anyone who is willing to start to make a difference is somebody we need on our side here.”

Sources: Fox News, Miami Herald, CNN, Washington Examiner, NBC, Palm Beach Post, Vox, CBS, The New Yorker, The Sun Sentinel, Florida State Statutes

Photo Source: Fabrice Florin via Flickr