Behind the bullet

Florida natives react to the high school massacre

By on February 20, 2018

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17 students and faculty members of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School died on Feb. 14 after Nikolas Cruz, a former student opened fire in a Florida high school.

19-year-old Cruz entered Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and commenced shooting with a semi-automatic AR-15 rifle, according to authorities.

Cruz has been charged with 17 accounts of premeditated murder. The firearm used in the shooting was bought legally according to officials.

Cruz reportedly set off fire alarms in the school to force students and faculty into the hallways.

A report from Florida authorities stated that Cruz blended in with fleeing students to escape but was later arrested as he walked down residential street.

“He looked like a typical high school student, and for a quick moment I thought, could this be the person who I need to stop?” Officer Michael Leonard said, according to the New York Times.

The FBI also had information about a provocative comment that Cruz made on YouTube in September.

“I’m going to be a professional school shooter,” the comment said.

Marjory Stoneman Douglas students have responded to the attack, directly speaking out to lawmakers, according to Quinnipiac media studies professor and Florida native Kearston Wesner.

“Clearly having a robust conversation about these issues is critical,” Wesner said. “And now the Parkland students have changed the narrative around this issue. They are the ones who really are ensuring that this issue stays at the forefront.”

Although not from Parkland, Wesner has heard from friends about the atmosphere after the attack. From anger and fear, to anxiety and frustration, Wesner said that everyone is on edge.

“Throughout the entire United States, people are feeling a complicated mixture of emotions,” Wesner said.

“This has been a really emotional week for me. I can’t stop thinking about what happened at Marjory Stoneman Douglas for one second. All day and all night,” senior journalism major Nicole Kessler said.

Kessler grew up in Boca Raton, Florida, 15 minutes from Parkland where the shooting occured.

“Our communities are intertwined. We are neighbors. Some of my fondest childhood memories were made in Parkland,” she said.

Howard Finkelstein, chief public defender of Broward County Florida, stated that Cruz’s case will pose the question of whether or not society should execute mentally ill people.

Cruz’s lawyers said on Friday that he may plead guilty to the charges to avoid the death penalty.

“This certainly is the type of case the death penalty was designed for,” Broward County State Attorney Mike Satz said, according to the New York Post.

A vigil was held at Pine Trails Park in Parkland, Florida to pay tribute to the victims of the shooting. The Marjory Stoneman Douglas football team gathered separately to pray for their coach, Aaron Feis, who sacrificed himself by shielding students during the attack.

After Cruz’s adopted mother died in November, he moved in with the Snead family, whose son was a friend of Cruz. The Snead family knew that Cruz was “lonely, depressed and a bit odd but saw no warning signs of a coming massacre,” according to CNN.

The Sneads told CNN that Cruz brought guns into their home in a safe which they required him to ask permission to open. James Snead said he believes that Cruz kept a second key for the safe that he did not know about, according to CNN.

The Snead family gave Cruz a home and reportedly enrolled him in adult-education classes so he could earn his G.E.D. The Sneads also helped Cruz get a job at a local Dollar Tree store.

Cruz was set to to inherit $800,000 from his deceased parents, most of which he would receive as he turned 22-years-old, according to CNN.

On the day of the shooting, Cruz reportedly texted the Snead’s son to see where he was in the building, the son fled unharmed from the school.

As it happens after every mass shooting, citizens shout to politicians for change and politicians go back and forth on the gun control debate.

“At some point, we’ve got to say enough is enough,” Senator Bill Nelson of Florida said, according to the Times.

American voters support stricter gun laws 66 – 31 percent, the highest percentage that measured the Quinnipiac University National Poll has ever, according to a report the Poll released on Tuesday.

Over 65% of American voters say that guns are too easy purchase, according to the Poll.

As a media studies professor, Wesner said she believes the media’s coverage of the tragedy has been remarkable.

“What is important, from my perspective, is to make sure that the media’s focus is on amplifying the voices of the victims’ families and the survivors,” Wesner said.

Jeremy Fridling, a first year medical student at Quinnipiac and paramedic is part of the Stop the Bleed campaign, which strives to teach people what they need to know to stop the flow of blood while first responders are on their way to the scene.

“To me, this means giving people the knowledge, skills, and motivation to stop preventable death from blood loss,” Fridling said. “To accomplish their goals, the Stop the Bleed Campaign is pushing the Bleeding Control class to members of the public and attempting to make trauma first-aid kits available for use in public spaces.”

The most common cause of preventable death in attacks like Florida is bleeding out, according to Fridling.

“Death from blood loss can occur in five minutes or less, which often passes before first responders arrive. The class and the campaign aim to convert members of the public into “immediate responders,” who can initiate care of the traumatically injured during that time frame and keep people alive,” Fridling said.

Anyone can sign up for a class in their area at www.bleedingcontrol.org.

“So far, many medical students and nursing students have taken the class at the North Haven campus, and I’m hoping to offer some classes at the undergraduate campuses in the near future,” Fridling said.

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