Valentine’s Day Massacre


Jim Young

CHICAGO, IL – APRIL 20: A student holds up her hands while taking part in National School Walkout Day to protest school violence on April 20, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois. Students from around the nation joined in the walkout against gun violence on the 19th anniversary of the shooting at Columbine High School (Photo by Jim Young/Getty Images)

Stephanie Esparza, Journalist

   This past February 14, marked 3 years since the school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, killing 17 people and injuring 17 others.  

   Nickolas Cruz, 19 years old, at the time, was a former student at the school. Cruz was dropped off at the school by an Uber driver at 2:19 P.M, shortly before the time of dismissal. 

   According to the police, Cruz was carrying a backpack and a rifle case. He entered Building 12, a 3-story building that contained 30 classrooms. He was armed legally with an AR-15 style semi-automatic rifle, because Florida wouldn’t require fingerprints, a special permit, or even a waiting period before buying the gun. Anyone over 18 can buy a rifle in Florida if they pass a background check. He entered the building and pulled the fire alarm, but students were confused because they had a drill earlier that day. 

   At about 2:21 P.M, a staff member heard gunfire and activated a code red lock-down. A school resource officer, Scot Peterson, was on campus but instead of entering Building 12, he stayed outside and waited. Peterson was fired a few weeks later. 

   The shooting lasted 6 minutes. Nickolas went into 4 classrooms on the first floor and killed 11 people. He then headed for the second floor, where he went into 2 classrooms and fired but did not kill anyone. On the third floor, he killed 6 people in the hallway. Cruz tried shooting out the windows but failed due to the windows being hurricane resistant. 

   After Cruz stopped shooting, he dropped his gun and fled with the students out of the school. He camouflaged with the other students and walked to a nearby mall and purchased a soda. He then walked over to a fast-food restaurant and waited before leaving at 3:01 pm. 

   Cruz was stopped by a police officer in Wyndham Lakes neighborhood of Coral Springs at 3:40 P.M. and was taken to a nearby hospital emergency room with ‘’labored breathing” due to adrenaline. After about 40 minutes, Cruz was released back to the police and put into the Broward County Jail. 

   Seventeen people were killed and seventeen were injured. Twelve victims died inside the building, three outside on the premises, and two in the hospital. The fourteen students and three staff members killed were: Alyssa Alhadeff, 14, Scott Beigel, 35, Martin Duque, 14, Nicholas Dworet, 17, Aaron Feis, 37, Jaime Guttenberg, 14, Chris Hixon, 49, Luke Hoyer, 15, Cara Loughran, 14, Gina Montalto, 14, Joaquin Oliver, 17, Alaina Petty, 14, Meadow Pollack, 18, Helena Ramsay, 17, Alex Schachter, 14, Carmen Schentrup, 16, Peter Wang, 15. 

   Scott Beigel was a geography teacher who unlocked a classroom for a student to enter and hide from the gunman. Aaron Feis, assistant coach and security guard, was killed as he shielded two students. Chris Hixon, the school’s athletic director, was killed as he ran towards the sound of the gunfire to help students. 

   Student Peter Wang, was seen in his Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC) uniform, holding the doors open so other students could get out quickly. Wang was not able to flee with the students when Cruz appeared and fatally shot him. People who saw Wang commented on his heroic actions. A White House petition called for him to be buried with military honors. Wang was honored by the U.S. Army at his funeral with the JROTC Medal for Heroism and buried with his JROTC Blues uniform. 

   Alyssa Alhadeff was the captain of the Parkland Soccer Club. On March 7, 2018 she was honored by the United States Women’s National Soccer Team prior to a game in Orlando. Her teammates and family members were invited to the game and presented with official jerseys that had Alhadeff’s name. 

   Meadow Pollack was a senior who was shot four times. As Cruz was shooting into other classrooms, Pollack tried to crawl into a classroom but was unable to get inside. Cara Loughan, a freshman, was beside Pollack. Pollack covered Loughan from the bullets, Cruz located both of them and discharged his firearm five more times, killing both girls. 

   15 year-old Anthony Borges was the last victim to remain hospitalized. Borges was given the nickname of “The Real Iron Man”, shot 5 times while barricading the door of a classroom with 20 students inside. 

   Several of the survivors from the shooting, students and teachers, have struggled with survivor’s guilt, and other symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). On March 17, 2019, a 19-year-old survivor who had lost her friend Meadow Pollack, committed suicide after struggling to attend college. She was frightened of being in a classroom, and had been treated for survivor’s guilt and PTSD. A 16-year-old boy who had survived the shooting died of an apparent suicide less than a week later.  

   Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School is part of many of the schools that have had a shooting. To make that “part” smaller we need to go together as a community and stop this. Help the children in need and be there for them, so these types of events don’t happen.