Valentine’s Day of 2018 did not turn out to be as loving as expected. On the day typically assigned to showing your love and care to others, a tragedy occurred instead.
Around 2 p.m. on Wednesday a 19-year-old shooter entered Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida and proceeded to kill 17 people as well as leaving 15 more in the hospital. The shooting is one of the deadliest school shootings in U.S. history. The shooter, Nikolas Cruz, was apprehended while walking along the street.
Cruz was adopted when he was two by Roger and Lynda Cruz. Roger passed away when Cruz was six years old, so he lived with Lynda for most of his life. Lynda and Cruz had a tense relationship. According to CNN Lynda repeatedly called the police to “talk some sense into Cruz.” On Jan. 15, 2013 Lynda called the police as the two had an argument about Cruz going to school; when Lynda punished him, he threw objects including a chair at the woman. He also called her a “useless bitch”
Cruz knew the school from his time there as a student. He was a troubled student undoubtedly as he was banned from carrying a backpack in the school due threats he made against his classmates. Cruz also had made multiple disturbing proclamations over social media. His YouTube channel included violent threats; over this channel he also claimed he wanted to be a, “professional school shooter.” He was also investigated by a Florida state official after he put a photo on Snapchat of him cutting both of his arms and saying he planned to buy a gun.
While he had a history of violence, Cruz was also diagnosed by a state official as having depression, autism and attention deficit disorder; he was also self-harming. While Cruz was viewed as a threat due to his violent proclamations, he was cleared by state investigators who believed he wasn’t a risk. He had been going to a mental health facility, but when his mother died in 2017, Cruz quit the treatments.
In early 2017, Cruz bought an AR-15 style rifle from a small gun store, named Sunrise Tactical Supply, in Coral Springs. Cruz passed all of the background checks and bought the gun legally.
Sunrise Tactical Supply’s lawyer, Douglas Rudman, released this statement about the sale of the gun: “The Morrisons here sold a lawful weapon to someone who was mentally ill. Someone who fell through the cracks. Someone who was not held accountable for their actions when they were expelled from school. Someone who was not put into any sort of database and someone who was essentially allowed to go unchecked before walking into this store and purchasing a firearm.”
Cruz took this gun into Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and pulled the fire alarm to draw the students out into the hall. To make matters worse, students had been told earlier in the day that they would be having a fire drill, so they assumed nothing was wrong as they entered the hallway.
Students and faculty were gunned down as heroes emerged from the day. Scott Beigel, a geography teacher at the school, was killed after unlocking the door of his classroom for students to enter and hide; some students did survive because Cruz did not enter the classroom. A security guard and assistant football coach, Aaron Feis, was killed while shielding two students from Cruz. The athletic director Chris Hixon was shot and killed as he ran towards the gunfire. Peter Wang, a 15-year-old ROTC member was last seen alive holding doors open for his fellow students so they could get out quicker.
Cruz eventually dropped his weapon in the school and made his way out of the building and ran with a group of terrified students who did not realize he was the shooter. After this, he entered a Walmart to purchase a drink and then made his way to McDonalds. Here, he sat for a short time and then went back out. Finally, at 3:41 p.m., Cruz was stopped by a Coconut Creek police officer and was detained without incident.
Around the same time of his arrest, the high school began releasing students as SWAT teams cleared the school. At 5:40, students were finally able to reunite with their families after a day of fear and confusion.
Throughout the day students were using social media to update the world on what was going on. One student, Aiden Minoff, tweeted a photo of his hiding spot and wrote, “Still locked in. I checked the local news and there is 20 victims. Long live Margery Stoneman Douglas High.”
After this, reactions began pouring in. There were the students who announced their pain to the world. Javier Lovera, a student at Margery Stoneman Douglas, tweeted, “We are too young to be losing friends like this.”
A Florida senator tweeted, “Our worst fears are being realized. It looks like it’s a number of fatalities. Praying for all those students, families and school members affected at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.”
Donald Trump then tweeted, “So many signs that the Florida shooter was mentally disturbed, even expelled from school for bad and erratic behavior. Neighbors and classmates knew he was a big problem. Must always report such instances to authorities, again and again!”
On top of these things, changes are being demanded across the country. Students from Margery Stoneman Douglas are publicly standing up to push for gun control.
Sarah Chadwick is one of these students and she is trying to meet Trump to discuss the issue. She tweeted directly to Donald Trump, “@realDonaldTrump hello I’m the 16 year old girl who tweeted you that I didn’t want your condolences, I wanted gun control, and went viral because of it. I heard you are coming to my community soon. I would love for you to hear my opinions on gun control in person. – a survivor.”
Cruz appeared in court on Feb. 19. The defense team presented a document to the judge that was decided would remain sealed at this time. Judge Elizabeth Scherer, after accepting this, said, “Going forward, all matters in this case are going to be heard by this court.” Throughout the hearing, Cruz was quiet and kept his head down.
James Haegerman, ’20, when asked about the topic stated, “It’s an awful tragedy. School shootings are becoming way too common, and I’m glad to see that students are standing up and demanding that action is taken to prevent this from happening again.”
The country mourns after this great tragedy and now we have to wait and see if reform will be made towards protection of schools.