At least 17 people are dead after a deadly mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida on Wednesday afternoon.
The suspect, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, was reportedly a former student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where the shooting took place. Despite initially evading arrest as he blended in with students fleeing the building, police later apprehended Cruz, who has been arrested and charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder. Cruz was armed with an AR-15-style semi-automatic rifle. The tragedy marks the 18th school shooting — and the 40th mass shooting — this year.
Information about the victims is slowly coming to light. We will be naming them and sharing their stories as more become known.
Alyssa Al Hadeff
Al Hadeff, 15, was “a talented soccer player, so smart, an amazing personality, incredible creative writer, and all she had to offer the world was love,” her mother, Lori Al Hadeff wrote on Facebook Thursday morning.
Her mother said her daughter was killed by “a horrific act of violence.”
“She believed in people for being so honest,” her mom wrote. “A knife is stabbed in my heart. I wish I could of taken those bullets for you. I will always love you and your memory will live on forever. Please kiss your children, tell them you love them, stand by them no matter what they want to be. To Alyssa’s Friends honor Alyssa by doing something fabulous in your life. Don’t ever give up and inspire for greatness. Live for Alyssa! Be her voice and breathe for her. Alyssa loved you all forever!”
Beigel, 35, was a social studies teacher at the high school, and he died protecting a group of students. Student Kelsey Friend told Good Morning America Wednesday that she is alive because of him.
Student breaks down talking to @GStephanopoulos about hero teacher who helped save her life and lost his own. "I'm so thankful that he was there to help everybody who did live." https://t.co/8DL1ThRqYM pic.twitter.com/bZyvbJs8cO
— Good Morning America (@GMA) February 15, 2018
Friend said that when the alarm went off, she thought it was a drill and began to go outside. When she realized what had happened, Beigel unlocked the door to his classroom and let her in.
“He unlocked the door and let us in. I thought he was behind me but he wasn’t. When he opened the door, he had to relock it so that we could stay safe but he didn’t get the chance,” she said.
Duque, 14, was a freshman at Douglas. He was killed in the shooting Wednesday.
His brother confirmed his death on Instagram early Thursday, writing, “Words cannot describe my pain… I know you’re in a better place. Duques forever man I love you junior!!!”
Duque’s family put together a GoFundMe, which had raised more than $2,000 as of 1:30 p.m. Thursday.
“He was a very funny kid, outgoing and sometimes really quiet. He was sweet and caring and loved by all his family. Most of all he was my baby brother,” Miguel Duque wrote on the GoFundMe page. “My family and I have no words to describe the event that’s has happened on this date, all my prayers to the lost ones. My family and I will appreciate anything that we can get helped with. R.I.P Martin Duque.”
Dworet was a senior who had recently earned a swimming scholarship to the University of Indianapolis.
“This is a kid who went from middle of the pack last year to being just lights out,” his coach told the Indy Star. “He helped put our program on the map… Everybody loved him.”
— it’s Lex (@lexielibert_) February 15, 2018
Friends of Dworet’s posted tributes to him on social media.
“you are forever loved and will be missed by everyone,” one wrote. “God gained another angel in you.”
One of yesterday's victims, Nicholas Dworet, was a senior who just received a swimming scholarship to the University of Indianapolis. My niece was friends with him since kindergarten and posted her memories this morning. Such a heartbreaking loss and sickeningly avoidable traged pic.twitter.com/m3EEHjKjOe
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) February 15, 2018
Another wrote on Instagram, “We walked into Kindergarten together, so knowing that you won’t be walking across the state at graduation with me in a few months is devastating and heartbreaking.”
It is with Great sadness that our Football Family has learned about the death of Aaron Feis. He was our Assistant Football Coach and security guard. He selflessly shielded students from the shooter when he was shot. He died a hero and he will forever be in our hearts and memories pic.twitter.com/O181FvuHl3
— MS Douglas Football (@MSDEagles) February 15, 2018
Feis was an assistant football coach and security guard at the high school. He died after jumping in front of a student and the shooter, pushing the student through a door and out of danger.
The football team confirmed Feis’s death on Twitter early Thursday morning.
“He selflessly shielded students from the shooter when he was shot,” the tweet said. “He died a hero and he will forever be in our hearts and memories.”
Douglas football coach Willis May described Feis as a “big ol’ teddy bear” to local media.
“Hardcore — he coached hard,” May told the Orlando Sentinel. “Real good line. He did a great job with the [offensive] line. He took pride with working with those guys. Loyalty — I trusted him. He had my back. He worked hard. Just a good man. Loved his family. Loved his brother — just an excellent family man.”
According to a biography on the high school website, Feis leaves behind a wife, Melissa, and a young daughter, Arielle.
View this post on Instagram
This, ladies and gentlemen, if the face of a hero. Coach Aaron Feis was injured protecting a student in the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and, at last report, is in critical condition. He is a friend to all students that know him. He was always so nice to me when I went to school there, and I know he is close with my brother and his friends. Please, take a moment to send healing prayers for him.
Feis attended Douglas himself, and played center for the Eagles from 1995 to 1998.
“After graduating in 1999, he decided to pay it forward and return to Douglas in 2002,” his biography said. He had been a security guard at the school for eight years.
Guttenberg was a student at Douglas, and her death was confirmed by local media late Wednesday. Her parents, Fred and Jennifer Guttenberg, also have a son, Jesse, who reportedly made it home safely.
Guttenberg’s Facebook page, which was changed to a memorial page, was already filled with tributes Thursday morning, and her cousin, Alexa Saka, posted a tribute late Wednesday night.
“You grew up to be the most beautiful, kind-hearted, driven, funny and sweet girl,” Saka wrote on Facebook. “You went out of your way to make everyone feel good and that smile… that smile lit up every single room you walked into. I will always cherish the time we had together. I will never understand why you were taken from us so soon but you will never be gone. You hold such a special place in my heart. My sweet baby cousin, may you sleep with the angels tonight and always.”
Her father also wrote a post about his daughter on Facebook saying that his “heart is broken.”
“We lost our daughter and my son Jesse Guttenberg lost his sister. I am broken as I write this trying to figure out how my family get’s through this,” he wrote. “We appreciate all of the calls and messages and we apologize for not reacting to everyone individually. Jen and I will be figuring things out today and so we ask that you respect out privacy. We will be getting messages out later regarding visitation. Hugs to all and hold your children tight.”
“RIP Chris Hixon,” Aaron Gonzales, a recruiting assistant for Florida Atlantic University football tweeted. “I left Douglas to take a job at a rival school. I came back to watch a lacrosse game to find Chris running the ticket gate. He shook my hand, asked how I was, let me in for free and said ‘once an Eagle, always an Eagle.'”
Coral Springs High School athletic director Dan Jacob told local media Wednesday that Hixon was “such a great guy.”
“Chris is probably the nicest guy I have ever met. He would give you the shirt off his back,” Jacobs said. “He does so much. That is terrible that it would happen to anybody. It is so senseless. I am crushed.”
Under Hixon, the school’s baseball team won a state and national championship in 2016.
A wrestling coach at another local school told the Sun Sentinel Hixon was a “super human being.”
Hoyer was killed Wednesday and found on the third floor of the school, a family member, Toni Brownlee, wrote on Facebook Thursday.
“This has devastated our family and we’re all in shock and disbelief,” Brownlee wrote. Our hearts are broken. Luke was a beautiful human being and greatly loved.”
Another family member asked for people to pray for Hoyer’s family on Facebook Thursday.
“[O]ur whole family is devastated by this senseless shooting that our young Luke lost his precious life in the Florida school shooting yesterday,” Mary Beth Stroud-Gibbs wrote. “Our Luke was a precious child, who just went to school yesterday not knowing what was to come. We are all devasted and we now need all of your prayers for acceptance of this tragedy, understanding and healing our broken hearts.”
Loughran’s neighbor, Danny Vogel, confirmed her death on Facebook Thursday.
“It is with a heavy heart and much regret that I write these words,” Vogel said in the post. “Our next-door neighbor’s daughter was one of the lives taken to soon by a senseless act of violence at Stoneman Douglas High School. RIP Cara, and fly with the angels. You will be greatly missed, and we will always love you and celebrate your beautiful life.”
Montalo, 14, died late Wednesday, according to family and friends posting on social media. She was a member of the school’s winter guard team, which was scheduled to perform at a regional event in Tampa, Florida this weekend, according to the Miami Herald.
A color guard instructor, Manuel Miranda, spoke to the Herald, saying, “My heart is broken into pieces.”
“She was the sweetest soul ever,” Miranda said. “She was kind, caring, always smiling and wanting to help.”
According to friends and family members on social media, Oliver, a Douglas student, was among those killed in the shooting.
On Wednesday, his sister, Andrea Ghersi, posted on Facebook saying they hadn’t heard from Oliver, who was at the school during the shooting.
Early Thursday, friends of Oliver’s began posting tributes on Twitter.
He didn’t make it… I love you cuz. I’m sorry for all this. I’m at a loss of words. pic.twitter.com/X9cJ6juCxh
— Javi 🥀 (@Javier_Lovera__) February 15, 2018
my brother has passed. i’m in such shock i don’t know what to say. i love you so much, i hope you’re in a better place. and i’ll never forget you https://t.co/5qUlufQ7N5
— sebi (@sebiloveschoco) February 15, 2018
“He didn’t made it,” one wrote, adding pictures of Oliver. “I’m at a loss of words.”
“i love you so much, i hope you’re in a better place,” tweeted another. “i’ll never forget you.”
Petty, 14, was killed in the shooting, her great-aunt Claudette McMahon Joshi confirmed on Facebook Thursday.
“There are no hashtags for moments like this, only sadness,” she wrote. “Our hearts are with [her family] and all the families touched by this tragedy.”
Pollack was a senior who planned to attend Lynn University, according to the Miami Herald. Her death was confirmed Thursday morning.
“Please say a prayer for the family of an amazing girl I got to call my bestfriend growing up Meadow Pollack,” a friend, Gii Lovito, wrote on Facebook Thursday. “her life was taken way too soon and i have no words to describe how this feels. Rest In Peace my beautiful angel. you are and forever will be loved.”
Schachter was a member of the marching band and among those killed Wednesday.
An extended family member of Schachter’s, confirmed his death to ThinkProgress Thursday and called him a great kid.
“He will be missed immensely,” the family member said. “Everybody is just broken up and beyond shocked… His family adored him and we’re all really just in shock.”
Schentrup was a 2017 National Merit Scholar semifinalist. Her friends mourned her on social media Thursday.
Rest In Peace Carmen Schentrup ❤️ @Schentrump, your family is forever in my thoughts and prayers. I’m so sorry.
— Pranati (@pranatiishah) February 15, 2018
devistared to hear of the passing of Carmen Schentrup. although only a short time, it was an honor to work with her in The Little Mermaid during her 8th grade year. May she rest easy ❤️
— samantha (@samanthacgrady) February 15, 2018
Rest easy Carmen Schentrup💗 I was in the same classroom as this beautiful soul, she was so bright and had her entire life ahead of her. She was someone we all praised for her intelligence. I will never forget what I saw, and I will never forget you. Sending love to your family.
— Steph (@ohstephany_) February 15, 2018
“I was in the same classroom as this beautiful soul,” one friend wrote. “[S]he was so bright and had her whole life ahead of her. She was someone we all praised for her intelligence.”
Officials said on Thursday afternoon that Ramsey, 17, was among the dead. Ramsey’s family described her as “a smart, kind hearted, and thoughtful person. She was deeply loved and loved others even more so. Though she was some what reserved, she had a relentless motivation towards her academic studies, and her soft warm demeanor brought the best out in all who knew her.”
Wang, 15, was reportedly last seen holding the door open so other people could escape, according to his cousin Aaron Chen, who spoke to the Miami Herald. He was a member of ROTC.
Chen later confirmed his cousin’s death, telling First Coast News, “He wasn’t supposed to die. He was supposed to grow old with me.”