Parkland High School Shooting: All 17 victims of the tragic shooting identified
Wednesday's shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School is the worst since the Sandy Hook Elementary massacre in 2013. 19-year-old gunman Nikolas Cruz's rampage claimed 17 innocent lives.
The shooting on Wednesday at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School campus in Parkland, about 45 miles north of Miami, by 19-year-old former student Nikolas Cruz, left 17 dead and a further two dozen injured. Seven survivors of the horrific incident still remain hospitalized and are getting treatment for their injuries, with two of them believed to be in critical condition.
Cruz was caught by the police alive and was taken into custody at the Broward County Jail. The 19-year-old, who has been charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder, made his initial appearance in court on Thursday and was ordered to be held without bond.
While many of the victims of the shooting had already been identified by grieving family members on social media, Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel read out the names of all 17 at a press conference on Thursday evening. Besides students, amongst the dead is also a beloved football coach and a geography teacher:
# Alyssa Alhadeff, 14
Alyssa Alhadeff was a talented soccer player and is remembered by friends and family as being smart and having an amazing personality. Raised in a Jewish household, she placed first in a debate tournament and was said to be keen on learning Spanish.
Her cousin Thomas Lizzi took to Facebook to confirm her death and wrote: Today, I found out that Alyssa Alhadeff was one of the 17 victims of the terrible shooting. She was my 2nd cousin. She was family. I never had the chance to meet her, but I did meet her mother and her grandparents. I spent time with the people who were the closest to her, and they loved her with all of their hearts. Rest Easy, Cousin."
On a video posted on Twitter, her grief-stricken mother Lori Alhadeff said: "My daughter, Alyssa Alhadeff, was shot many times and killed. We need to get these guns."
# Christopher Hixon, 49
Christopher Hixon was an athletic director at the school and was one of the first victims whose death was confirmed by the authorities. A retired veteran, a photo from his retirement went viral on social media. The picture shows Hixon saluting his son, Thomas. Both served together in the US Navy from 2006-2012 in support of Navy Security Forces Key West and Navy Operational Support Center Miami.
Hixon is survived by his wife, Debbi, sons Thomas (Ines) and Corey, and two grandchildren. A post by his friend, Cameron Zbikowski, on Facebook, read: "RIP Christopher Hixon... you were a great shipmate, sailor, friend, and patriot! My heart goes out to your family and loved ones. It was an honor to serve with you brother!"
# Alaina Petty, 14
14-year-old Alaina Petty was a member of the church Coral Springs Ward and was of Mormon faith. She had devoted countless hours of service to her community as a volunteer for the ‘Helping Hands’ program of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and was involved in numerous programs at her school.
A family friend confirmed the news of her death on Facebook and wrote: "Alaina Petty... My assistant... My brothers sister... The person who was always by the ROTC door greeting me. The girl who I could make fun of her brother with and call him a dummy. The cadet who won our first ever Cadet of the Quarter. The innocent human MURDERED by a mentally ill piece of s***. "
"I love you Petty, I’m sorry for never teaching you everything about OUR position. I used to call it mine but you will guide me in the right path. You are so involved in the program, the best freshman we have ever had. I have been with your brother as much as I can, he is my brother and we have been lost for so long. Things are setting in slowly - ROTC won’t be the same without you. You died in your uniform... I know how she passed, if Ms. Hass would’ve had her door locked like she was supposed to my girl would not be dead. I love you Alaina Petty."
# Scott Beigel, 35
Scott Beigel was a geography teacher at the high school and opened the door to let a group of fleeing students into his classroom. When Beigel attempted to re-lock the door, the gunman fatally shot and killed him. He reportedly spent his summers helping out a camp in Pennsylvania and had a love for Fedora hats.
Matt Hipps, a friend of Beigel, wrote on Facebook: "I've been searching for the words all morning to convey how I feel right now. As many of you know, yesterday there was a senseless act of violence that left 17 dead at a High School in Florida. My friend, my brother, my family Scott Beigel worked at that school. At 1:58 A.M. this morning I received the heartbreaking call that Scott had not made it. He died shielding his students from gunfire. He made the ultimate sacrifice to do what he so often effortlessly did; make the lives of other people better..."
"Scott Beigel, I won't say goodbye. I can't. It just hurts too much. So, I will see you on the other side brother. I love you. I miss you. I promise that I will make you proud. Until next time my friend...."
# Luke Hoyer, 15
15-year-old Luke Hoyer was a freshman who loved basketball and eating chicken McNuggets. He has been described as a 'beautiful human being and greatly loved'. His death was confirmed by his aunt Toni Stroud Brownlee: "This has devastated our family and we're all in shock and disbelief. Our Luke was a precious child, who just went to school yesterday, not knowing what was to come."
His cousin Grant Hox wrote a tribute for Luke on Facebook: "I am devastated and in disbelief that my first cousin Luke Hoyer was one of the 17 victims in the school shooting in Parkland, Florida at Douglas High School. He was 15 years of age. My thoughts and prayers go out to the Hoyer family and all the other victims families involved in this tragedy. Tears will never show you how much I loved Luke. He had a whole life ahead of him and now I live through him. I love you so much buddy!"
# Meadow Pollack, 18
Meadow had been accepted into Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida, with her death confirmed by her father, Andrew Pollack.
Pollack had spent several hours searching the hospitals in the area for news of his daughter before he was informed that she was one of the 17 victims. A spokeswoman for the university addressed Meadow's death and said: "Meadow was a lovely young woman, who was full of energy. We were very much looking forward to having her join our community in the fall."
A friend shared a photo of them when they had gone fishing and wrote: "Still can believe something this horrible happened, I don’t know why bad things happen to such good people. Praying for you and your family! Rest In Peace Meadow Pollack."
# Carmen Schentrup, 16
16-year-old Carmen Schentrup was the 2017 National Merit Scholar semifinalist and described by friends as 'intelligible.' Her death was reported by family members on social media, with her cousin Matt Brandow writing: "With a very heavy heart, my beloved cousin Carmen just passed away in the Parkland high school shooting today. Rest In Peace Carmen, you were the smartest and most intelligible 16-year-old I've ever met! You will be remembered forever."
# Martin Duque Anguiano, 14
14-year-old Martin Duque Anguiano's death was confirmed on Instagram by his brother Miguel. The post, which has now garnered over 3,000 likes was accompanied by the caption: "Words can not describe my pain. I love brother Martin you’ll be missed buddy. I know you’re in a better place. Duques forever man I love you junior!!! R.I.P Martin Duque!"
# Cara Loughran, 14
14-year-old Cara Loughran's death was confirmed by a peer counselor at her church. A member of the Drake School of Irish Dance's community in south Florida, a family friend had initially posted a message asking of her whereabouts: "Friends and family this is a dear family friend, Cara Loughran, who is a student at Stoneman Douglas and is still missing (as of 9 pm on 2/14/18). PLEASE share and help us find her!"
That was later updated to reflect the news of her tragic death: "Cara’s parents were given the news no parent ever wants to hear at 2 am. Please keep her family in your prayers. This is too horrible to even begin to process."
Her aunt Lindsay Fontana confirmed the death on Facebook as well: "This morning, I had to tell my 8-year-old daughters that their sweet cousin Cara was killed in the shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School yesterday. We are absolutely gutted. Cara was 14 years old. She was an excellent student, she loved the beach and she loved our girls."
"While your thoughts are appreciated, I beg you to DO SOMETHING. This should not have happened to our niece Cara and it can not happen to other people’s families."
# Helena Ramsay, 17
Named as a victim by Sheriff Israel, Helena was set to start college next year. Her family was very proud of her and called her a "smart, kind-hearted and thoughtful person." Quiet and reserved in demeanor, her peers say she had a relentless motivation towards her academic studies.
A family member confirmed her death on Facebook and wrote: "Valentine’s Day will never look the same for my family. My sweet cousin Helena Ramsay was one of the many lives senselessly taken by the monster who shot up Stoneman Douglas high school yesterday..."
"Helena, we miss you dearly and are so incredibly sorry that your life was cut short. You didn’t deserve this. We love you so much and will miss you greatly."
# Nicolas Dworet, 17
17-year-old Niclas Dworet was a senior at the school. A talented swimmer, he was recruited to the swimming team of the University of Indianapolis. The university's president, Robert L. Manuel, said: "Nick's death is a reminder that we are connected to the larger world, and when tragedy hits in places around the world, it oftentimes affects us at home. Today, and in the coming days, I hope you will hold Nick, his family, all of the victims, as well as the Parkland community and first responders in your prayers."
His death was also confirmed by his swim team, TS Aquatics, on Facebook. Their post read: "It's with a heavy heart that I/We have to announce that our family member, teammate, TS Aquatics swimmer Nick Dworet has passed away. He was an amazing person as well as a great swimmer. A happy young man who embodied the values of our program. A young man who had changed his life recently and was on a major upswing in his life. Nick, you have touched everyone on TS Aquatics in one way or another, whether it was your smile, your jokes or your very positive attitude."
"You will be forever be missed."
# Gina Montalto, 14
Gina Montalto was a 14-year-old freshman who served on the school's winter guard team and was supposed to be in Tampa this weekend for a regional event.
Described as 'kind, caring, always smiling, and wanting to help," her former color guard instructor Manuel Miranda wrote: "My heart is broken into pieces. I will forever remember you my sweet angel. She was the sweetest soul ever. She was kind, caring always smiling and wanting to help."
A family friend wrote: "Gina Montalto was such a sweet child. She had so much promise. She always had a smile on her face. Such a beautiful smile, it was the kind of smile that made other people smile too. I can’t believe she is gone. My heart aches for her family. I just want to scream for hours. There aren’t enough tears to express this sorrow."
# Alex Schachter, 14
14-year-old Alex's death was confirmed by Sheriff Israel. According to friends, Alex loved playing the trombone for the school's marching band and had even won a state title last year. He is said to have enjoyed playing basketball and was described as a 'sweetheart.' His brother survived the shooting.
A friend shared a photo of Alex in action with the marching band and wrote: "Alex Schachter is one of my son's band friends that didn't make it on yesterday's at the massive shooting at school. He was a freshman that played Baritone with my son."
# Aaron Feis, 37
Aaron Feis graduated from the high school in 1999 and had worked there as a security guard for at least eight years. He also played the role of a football coach.
According to various accounts, he took his role of protecting students very seriously and his tale went viral yesterday as it emerged he had acted as a human shield in a bid to protect students from the shooter. It was initially reported that the coach was gravely injured but it has now been confirmed that he has passed away.
A tweet by the MS Douglas Football team confirmed his death and read: "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."
# Joaquin Oliver, 17
17-year-old Joaquin Oliver was only a toddler when he left his native Venezuela for the US because his parents wanted him to grow up in the safety of south Florida.
He and his family became US citizens just one year ago, with his posts on Instagram proudly proclaiming: "Mama, we made it! 14 years ago we moved to this wonderful country... we are officially citizens of the United States of America. Never been more proud."
His death was mourned by a friend on Facebook, who shared a post and wrote: "Yesterday at the Douglas High School shooting, we lost a very good family friend, a cousin, a brother. The memories you have given my brother and I are times I will always be grateful for."
"Our battles in 2k, our basketball matches, thanksgiving dinners, you’re smile and the love you gave us will stay with me forever. You mean so much to us Joaquin Oliver. The world will never be the same without you buddy. Eres mi ángel volando sobre mí. Te Quiero compadre. Rest in peace Brother."
# Peter Wang, 15
15-year-old Peter Wang was a Chinese-born American who, during the mass shooting, sacrificed himself so his friends could escape. As the shooter approached, he blocked the door with his body and asked his friends to run. He did not survive.
He was in the school's Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) program and was last seen wearing the gray uniform with black stripes as he held open the door so others could escape. His cousin, Aaron Chen, described him as 'brave' and said that Peter was in the study hall when the shooting began. His best friend, Gabriel Ammirata, said: "Peter was a funny, nice and a great friend. He’s been my best friend since third grade."
# Jaime Guttenberg, 14
14-year-old Jaime Guttenberg was the first confirmed death of the tragic shooting. Her father, Fred Guttenberg confirmed his daughter's death in an emotional Facebook post which read: "My heart is broken. Yesterday, Jennifer Bloom Guttenberg and I lost our baby girl to a violent shooting at her school. 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 gets through this."
"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 our privacy. We will be getting messages out later regarding visitation. Hugs to all and hold your children tight."
A keen dancer, a friend shared a post on Facebook of Jaime during her numerous outings with her class and was accompanied by a caption: "Dear sweet Jaime Guttenberg. There are no words to describe how we are feeling. I pray for our Community, our DTX family, and the Guttenberg family. God, please give us the strength to get through this together. Dance in Heaven beautiful girl."
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