Tragic news of yet another mass shooting in the United States shocked the world on February 14th, 2018.
The confirmed number of deaths were 17 killed and 16 injured – making it one of the deadliest school massacres in US history. Victims of the shooting were 14 students and 3 staff members, ranging from the age of 14 – 49.
19 year-old Nikolas Jacob Cruz was identified as the perpetrator by witnesses. He was a former student of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. On that fateful day, Cruz entered the school’s premises in the afternoon – just after lunch time. He entered Building 12, which is a three-storey structure with 30 classroom that is typically occupied by more than 900 people during class hours. Cruz opened fire and aimed at his former teachers and schoolmates. The fire alarm caused confusion and people were oblivious to it since there was a fire drill earlier that day. The shooting lasted for 6 minutes. He then dropped the gun, walked out with the students and casually skedaddled to a nearby Walmart. He was stopped by a police officer about 45 minutes later, 3.2 kilometers from the school and was taken into custody.
A geography teacher named Scott Beigel was killed after he unlocked a classroom for students to hide in. The assistant football coach and security guard, Aaron Feis, was killed as he shieled two students. The school’s athletic director, Chris Hixon, was killed as he tried to help students flee while running towards the sound of the gun fire.
Peter Wang, a 15-year-old student was last seen holding the doors open so others could get out quicker. He was given a burial with full military honors and awarded with the ROTC Medal of Heroism, along with Alaina Petty and Martin Duque, and was laid to rest in his JROTC Blues Uniform.
The other victims were Alyssa Alhadeff, Nicholas Dworet, Jaime Guttenberg, Luke Hoyer, Cara Loughran, Gina Montalto, Joaquin Oliver, Meadow Pollack, Helena Ramsay, Alex Schachter and Carmen Schentrup.
Since the Sandy Hook shooting, more and more people have been raising awareness on how to spot the signs of someone who wants to commit a mass shooting. In 2016 and 2017, the sheriff’s office received several tips about Cruz’s threats to carry out a school shooting – but was ultimately brushed off. The FBI also learned that Cruz wrote about becoming a school shooter in September 2017 – but again, it was brushed off.
For those of you who has lost track on this tragedy, we’ve worked out a timeline of some important incident which took place:
1. Shooter is charged
Cruz was charged and indicted with 17 counts of first-degree murder and 17 counts of attempted first-degree murder. He can face the death penalty or life-without-parole. Either way, he’ll never be a free man again. Cruz is now on suicide watch in an isolation cell. He apparently feels ‘sorry’ and ‘regretted’ his actions.
2. Survivors speaking up
Students and survivors rallied together to organize marches and protests and have been speaking up about gun control in the US. They appropriately called themselves “#NeverAgain”. Dubbed as crisis actors, the students have been accused of working on behalf of gun control campaign groups and the FBI.
3. Retailers changing their gun policies
Dick’s Sporting Goods became the first major US firearm retailer to change their gun policies – guns will not be sold to those under 21, despite the law. It will also end all sales of assault-style rifles and high-capacity magazines.
Within 24 hours, Walmart and Kroger announced they were also doing the same. L.L. Bean and REI will also be changing their gun policies.
4. Companies cutting ties with the NRA
United is notifying the NRA that we will no longer offer a discounted rate to their annual meeting and we are asking that the NRA remove our information from their website.
— United Airlines (@united) February 24, 2018
Delta is reaching out to the NRA to let them know we will be ending their contract for discounted rates through our group travel program. We will be requesting that the NRA remove our information from their website.
— Delta (@Delta) February 24, 2018
FedEx, Symantec, MetLife, United Airlines, Delta Airlines are among the few that are cutting ties with the NRA by ending their contracts for the discounted rates. Some of the companies did it out of compassion while others are under activist pressure.
5. New gun restrictions
The National Rifle Association (NRA) were bucked by Florida lawmakers to pass new firearm regulations as well as create a program to arm school employees, such as teachers.
The approved bill would impose a three-day waiting period for most purchases of long firearms and raise the minimum age of weapon-purchase to 21. It also includes a huge sum of money for school security to be improved as well as the arming and training of school employees. The sale or possession of bump stocks, which makes guns shoot with the speed of an automatic weapon, will also be banned.
6. Tributes to the victims
One of the massive tributes of the 17 victims were displayed in Time Square on 6th March. It featured 3 electronic billboards that listed all the names of the 17, the high school’s logo as well as the hashtag #MSDStrong. The signs were created the school’s alumni, Shane Fedderman and Stacey Goldman, along with other alumni across the country.
7. A survivor suing the sheriff’s office
Anthony Borges, 15 – a survivor of the shooting who was struck five times trying to protect 20 other students, is suing the Broward County sheriff’s office, school district, and the principal and resource officer at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School due to the failure to adequately protect students and from life-threatening harm. Anthony still can’t walk due to his injuries and has undergone several surgeries. He is also troubled by the medical bill and a lot could have been done to prevent this tragedy.
8. New implementations in schools
Bulletproof doors, tables and shooting drills etc. are being implemented in school in case of a school shooting. Teachers and some school personnel are being armed to protect students. This has received mixed reviews from the public as school is deemed as a safe place – so why should these things even exist?
9. National school walk-out
Students from all over the US collectively walked out of their classrooms together to protest and stand up for gun control. Tributes to the lives that were lost to school shootings were made. Another walk-out will be organized towards the end of March, nicely named ‘March For Our Lives’.