It's Been Nine Weeks Since Parkland. There Have Been 17 School Shootings Since
We spoke to 11 students who experienced school shootings after the dawn of the #NeverAgain movement.
Elijah Miller of Texas State University (L), Fantasia Noack of Huffman High School (C), Maria Mitri of Jackson Memorial High School. Photos courtesy of the subjects.
On April 20, 1999, two students entered Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado with two shotguns, a carbine rifle, and a semi-automatic handgun. With those and a combination of homemade explosives, they killed 13 people and wounded more than 20 others before committing suicide in what has now become known as the Columbine massacre.
On Valentine's Day this year—Wednesday, February 14—a 19-year-old former student of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, entered his former school with a semi-automatic rifle and killed 17 students and administrators, wounding 17 more.
And this morning, on April 20, 2018, hours before thousands of students across the country planned to march out of class as part of the second nationwide school walkout spurred by the shooting in Parkland, another shooting occurred at Forest High School in Ocala, Florida, leaving one student with a bullet wound in the ankle.
According to Everytown for Gun Safety, a nonprofit that tracks gun violence in America, Forest High School shooting is the thirty-fourth school shooting of 2018 and the seventeenth that has occurred in the slightly more than two months since the attack at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Also according to the nonprofit, there have been 303 school shootings in the US since 2013, which averages out to one school shooting per week. Most do not receive national media attention.
It’s extremely difficult to track school shootings in the United States. And there are very clear reasons why: Under the Dickey Amendment, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention is prohibited from funding public health research on firearm violence, leaving the task to non-governmental organizations. Congress passed the amendment in 1996 under pressure from the National Rifle Association. In 2016, the American Medical Association deemed the rate of gun violence in the US a “public health crisis.”
Collectively, the 17 shootings since the one in Parkland, Florida represent the wide range of incidents that can qualify as a school shooting—including a fatal attack by a student, an apparent student suicide, a late-night campus conflict, and multiple accidental shootings and shootings by teachers. Broadly spoke to students from 11 of the 17 schools affected by shootings in the nine weeks since the shooting in Parkland. Read on to learn these students’ widely varying stories and remarkably aligned opinions on what needs to happen next.
North Broward Prep School, February 15
One day after the shooting in Parkland, the students of North Broward Prep School, a small, K-12 private school located only six-and-a-half miles from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High, were put on lockdown after a sound believed at the time to be a gunshot was heard during school hours. It was eventually concluded that the sound was not a gunshot. While police were investigating the school, however, a Broward Sheriff’s Office deputy accidentally shot himself in the leg.
That day, Matthew Weinstein, a senior at North Broward Prep who lives in Parkland, huddled with his classmates inside their classroom, unaware that the lockdown was caused by a false alarm. “This was the day after the Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting, so we were all freaking out,” Weinstein told Broadly. “After my teacher locked the door, kids were bawling their eyes out, afraid of what was going to happen. They might have also been thinking about their friends at Douglas who had just gone through the same thing.”
"In the weeks following what happened at my school, I constantly thought, if something were to happen at my school, what would my response be?"
Broadly: Currently, do you feel safe going to school?
Matthew Weinstein: With the [current] gun laws, I do not feel safe going to school. I don’t really think any student does, especially around here. Before what happened on Valentine’s Day at Marjory Stoneman High School, school shootings were not on the forefront of my mind. Even though I didn’t think about the threat of a school shooting every day, I definitely was worried about it. Now, I make conscious decisions while at school to protect myself, such as, I sit in different places, and I am more conscious of the people around me. In the weeks following what happened at my school, I constantly thought, if something were to happen at my school, what would my response be?
After the events at Parkland, your school, and the March For Our Lives, what do you believe needs to happen next?
I want the issue of gun violence to be at the forefront of the nation’s mind. We cannot forget about these atrocities in favor of what’s on TV tonight or what our favorite celebrity is wearing. If people remain active, I believe we can pressure lawmakers into getting real common sense gun laws. I also want to get more kids registered and voting. In the 2014 midterm elections, only 13 percent of the total vote was made up of people ages 18 through 29. If we can increase that number significantly, I know that we can get the right people into office. We need the kind of people who will listen to the younger voices of the nation and get things done.
Jackson Memorial Middle School, February 20
Less than one week after the shooting in Parkland and five days after the shooting at North Broward Prep, a 13-year-old seventh grade student enrolled at Jackson Memorial Middle School in Massillon, Ohio, entered his school with an undetected .22 rifle. Later that morning, another student spotted the gun and alerted a school faculty member. Before it was confiscated, however, the armed student shot and injured himself in a school bathroom. No one else was harmed.
After the shot was fired, the middle school went on lockdown, as did Jackson Memorial High School just down the street. There, sophomore Maria Mitri, who had been in the middle of chemistry class when the lockdown started, was struck with fear for the safety of her seventh grader brother locked inside Jackson Memorial Middle School.
“You can't go to a concert, you can't go to a nightclub, you can't go to your job, or school; you can't do any of these things without the fear of being shot,” Mitri told Broadly. “It's been done before, who says it won’t happen to you?”
Broadly: The month after the events at your school, you helped organize and spoke at your school’s walkout for gun control. What did you choose to highlight in your speech?
Maria Mitri: One thing I noted in my speech at the rally is that a lot of people who support the second amendment say, "It is my constitutional right to own a gun.” But this gun reform and gun control movement is not synonymous with a gun ban. We want limits and restrictions, not complete abolition.
You mentioned that students at your school have been debating the need for metal detectors. Would you feel safer with metal detectors?
Yeah, I mean, this seventh grader who is as old as my brother was able to get this long rifle A) out of the house B) onto the bus C) off of the bus D) into the school where there's lots of teachers and people, and nobody noticed it. And this kid had 80 rounds of ammunition with him, he wanted to kill 80 people and nobody noticed a thing. If we had metal detectors, they would have gone off. I know it's scary to think about that. People say, "This is a school; it shouldn't be like this." You're correct: This is a school, and it shouldn’t be like this, but this is the world we live in and therefore we must adapt.
Southeastern Louisiana University, February 23
Slightly over a week after the shooting in Parkland and three days after the shooting at Jackson Memorial Middle School, a shooting occurred on the campus of Southeastern Louisiana University, a small state university located in Hammond, Louisiana. That night, two student athletes enrolled at the school were shot outside of an on-campus dorm and sustained non-life threatening injuries, according to The Times-Picayune . In a statement posted on Facebook, Southeastern Louisiana University Police Department Director Harold Todd said, “The incident appears to have stemmed from a dispute between individuals and was not in any way directed at the university.” The statement also stated that two suspects, whose names were not released by the university, had been taken into custody by the University Police Department and were charged with attempted murder.
When the shooting started, Anthony Washington, a sophomore at the university and a resident assistant on campus, was on duty inside a nearby dorm. After hearing gunshots, he immediately went to check on the situation before calling the police. “[The shooting] was very shocking,” Washington told Broadly. “[Southeastern Louisiana University] is a relatively small school and something like that has not happened here before.”
Broadly: Do you think what happened at your school shines a light on the debate over gun control?
Anthony Washington: I really think after that happened—especially with two people who are so affiliated with the university—I feel like maybe the school itself should take better precautions… My university is very strict with a lot of things. There is a no tobacco policy, there is a lot of stuff on our campus that we can’t have.
It should be stricter about guns on campus?
Right, right .
Do you know how these students got a gun?
Honestly no idea. For the most part, people don’t partake in that activity on campus but there have been a couple of residents who have posted on Snapchat of themselves with firearms and stuff like that, and they immediately got caught.
Not only did you report the shooting, but you also had to speak to your residents about the situation afterwards. Since the shooting, what have you learned?
One thing that I figured out was that with a lot of things that happen on campus where the university will email you, the facts get misconstrued very, very quickly. …So it’s important to make sure that everyone knows the facts and they know what [they] can do to stay safe. And if you see something happen, don’t be afraid to call somebody. … You shouldn’t wait around until something extreme happens.
Savannah State University, February 24
Ten days after the shooting in Parkland and one day after the shooting at Southeastern Louisiana University, a shooting occurred near the university commons of Savannah State University, in Savannah, Georgia.
According to a tweet from the Savannah State University Twitter account, at 2:25 PM that day, the university’s public safety department received reports of shots fired near the university commons. The victim of the shooting was transported to Memorial Hospital, where he died. It was later reported that the victim was not a student at the university. According to the university, the shooter was also not enrolled at the school, and was taken into police custody the next day.
After the shooting, the Savannah State University Twitter account announced new campus security measures including increased police patrols.
Oakland High School, February 26
Twelve days after the shooting in Parkland and two days after the shooting at Savannah State, students at Tacoma, Washington’s Oakland High School, a small school of only 190 students, were put on lockdown after a single shot was fired during lunchtime in a school bathroom. The bullet traveled through the bathroom floor and the ceiling of a lunchroom filled with students located one floor below, KOMO News reports. There were no injuries.
“Before this even happened at my school, I was so worried about the threat of a school shooting,” Aleta Nelson, a junior at Oakland High School, told Broadly. “I was thinking about those other schools [that had experienced school shootings] all the time. Now I’m speaking out, not just because of what happened at my school, but because it’s important for everyone to hear about each [shooting].”
Broadly: Before the shooting at your school, had you ever feared for your life while at school?
Aleta Nelson: I think when things like this are happening, everyone thinks, Oh, it’s not going to happen to me. But I don’t think I actually felt that way. I had started noticing that [gun violence] was getting closer and closer to my area. While I don’t think we’ve had an actual shooting in my area, there has been a lot more violence in my community, especially around the time when the shooting happened at school. Because of all the violence, I have to always think, Gun violence isn’t just affecting people in other places; it’s here, too.
"Everyone needs to think about the issue and think, are my guns more important than my kids?"
Have you gone back to school?
I went back to school the day after the shooting happened. I thought we would get school off, but because no one was hurt we went back to school. The next day there was more security and there were counselors available, but it did feel weird to go back to school. Even though no one got shot, it was a big thing... Going back the next day was weird.
What do you believe should happen in order to make you feel safe at school?
That’s a really hard question to answer. I do think we need more gun control and I know there’s all that stuff about the second amendment. While [the second amendment] said we have the right to guns, nowhere did it say we can’t have gun control. For me, I’m not sure how [the student] got the gun. With gun control, this issue is not just about schools and threats to schools. When people can get easy access to guns, our community as a whole is at threat, and everyone should be worried about gun control. Everyone needs to think about the issue and think, are my guns more important than my kids?
Norfolk State, February 27
Thirteen days after the shooting in Parkland, in the early morning hours of the day following the Oakland High School incident, a student and resident assistant at Norfolk State University in Norfolk, Virginia, was shot while in his dorm room. According to local news station WTKR, the 19-year-old student was sitting in his dorm room “when he heard a loud noise from an adjacent dorm and noticed he had been shot in the behind.” By the time police responded to the shooting, the shooter had left the campus dormitory. The victim was taken to the hospital, treated, and released, according to The Virginian Pilot. In an official statement released that same day, Norfolk State interim president, Mel Stith, wrote, that “law enforcement continues to investigate this matter.”
Mississippi Valley State University, February 27
At around 7 PM on the same day as the Norfolk State shooting, a shooting occurred after a disagreement between a small group near the campus recreation center of Mississippi Valley State University located in Starkville, Mississippi, according to local news station KCBD. As the Seattle Times reports, the victim was not a student and sustained non-life threatening injuries. It is currently unclear whether or not the shooter was affiliated with the university.
Dalton High School, February 28
Two weeks after the shooting in Parkland and one day after the Norfolk and Mississippi State shootings, Jesse Randal Davidson, a social studies teacher at Dalton High School in Dalton, Georgia, barricaded himself in his classroom right before noon. After the school principal tried to unlock the door, Davidson said, “Don’t come in here, I have a gun,” CBS News reported. The school was immediately put on lockdown. Soon after, a gunshot was heard inside the classroom. The school later reported that Davidson had shot the gun out the window. No one was injured except for a student who hurt her ankle while running through the school.
After the incident, Jennifer Tafoya, an 18-year-old senior at Dalton High School, took to Twitter to share what had happened. “Hello [I] am a student in Dalton High School. This lockdown wasn’t fake, A teacher that I have had brought a gun to school. Today I lived the worst day of my life. Knowing that my life was risked today. Was a feeling I can’t describe. Thank you for your prayers,” she tweeted. When asked why she took to Twitter, Tafoya told Broadly, “I saw that the Parkland kids were speaking up, and I thought, maybe our school could speak up, too, and make a difference.”
"When I was just sitting there, my friends got messages that people were being held hostage and people were running. I thought, I might lose my life at this moment."
The day of the shooting, you tweeted, “This lockdown isn’t fake.” What prompted you to tweet that?
The day [of the shooting] people [on Twitter] were automatically saying, “Oh, it’s just a fake thing;” and, “It’s something [organized] by the government.” I thought, That’s just crazy. I just lived it and I don’t think it’s fake at all. … I think [conspiracy theorists on social media] should stop lying, and I think they need to understand that next time, it could be your school. Or someone you love could have to deal with a shooting. It’s not a joke.
Some people argue that instead of gun reform, schools should arm teachers. Do you agree with that belief?
We recently had a meeting at our school about that very issue, and people at the meeting said that we needed to arm teachers. I don’t think that’s right. If a teacher could do this at my school, I wonder what another teacher could do. We don’t know about their mental state, whether they are depressed or not. I think the only way we could allow [arming teachers] is to have a psychological background test on all teachers given guns, but I would prefer that teachers not have guns at all.
Central Michigan University, March 2
Sixteen days after the shooting in Parkland and two days after the shooting at Dalton High, 19-year-old Central Michigan University student James Eric Davis Jr. fatally shot his parents with his father’s gun while in his on-campus university dorm room. Davis Jr.’s father, James Davis Sr., was a police officer in the Bellwood suburb of Chicago. According to NBC News, Davis Jr. was described as “armed and dangerous” by the university campus police when he fled his dorm room after the shooting. After a daylong search involving more than 100 officers from various agencies, Davis Jr. was caught and arrested.
That day, Bryan Fettig, a senior at Central Michigan University who lives off-campus, woke up to missed calls and voicemails from concerned friends and relatives who had heard about the shooting. “Before what happened at CMU, I’ve never felt that I was in the position that I was going to get harmed at school,” Fettig told Broadly. “When I woke up and got the alerts around 11 am and I saw all these missed calls and voicemails, there was certainly uncertainty for me.”
Broadly: What message do you have for politicians standing with the NRA?
Brian Fettig: School shootings are an issue because it happens here [in the US] more than it does than in any other country. I think that politicians need to sit down and work something out. To me, it’s the Republican side of the aisle that isn’t taking this issue as seriously and I believe that they’re misconstruing the second amendment. To the NRA, I would say they started out as a good organization in the beginning, when they cared about conservation and hunters. But now, I don’t understand why the NRA opposes expanding background checks. Why do they need a 30 round [gun] magazine? Why does somebody need a bump stock? Those are things most people would agree the average citizen doesn’t need.
Did what happened at your school affect your opinion on the gun control debate?
What happened here doesn’t really fit with the narrative of either side. For instance, if the shooter’s father was a police officer, and he was able to take his gun, it would make sense to argue for more gun control, because if a kid can swipe a police officer’s gun, that police officer is trained. What happens if a regular person has a gun and their kid is in the house? I think there are a lot of things that could have happened differently at CMU but we can’t chalk it up to be a political debate—it was a very unfortunate event.
Texas State University, March 4
Eighteen days after the shooting in Parkland and two days after the shooting at Central Michigan University, a person was taken into custody early in the morning after a shot was fired towards a Texas State University residence hall in San Marcos, Texas, late Saturday night. According to local news station Fox 7, university police alerted students of the situation after arresting the suspected shooter, a non-student who got in an argument outside of the dorm.
Elijah Miller is a junior at Texas State University who lives in a house down the street from the residence hall where the shooting occurred. After the shooting happened, Miller accidentally drove by the scene and says he saw “eight cop cars parked right next to the dorm.”
"What if something escalates in class? What if a conversation gets a little bit heated and someone has a gun on them, then what?"
Broadly: Do you think the shooting at your school shines any light on the gun control debate currently happening in this country?
Elijah Miller: I definitely do think it shines a light on the gun control debate, just because that person shouldn't have had a gun in the first place. … I know a lot of college students feel uneasy in today's climate. I was having a conversation with some friends recently, and we were saying how in all of our classes, we kind of always think, What's the emergency route gonna be if something happens? I really don't think that's a burden that college students should have to worry about. Especially with the conceal and carry laws recently enacted in Texas [which allow for concealed weapons on campus], I know professors and students alike are kind of nervous about, what if something escalates in class? What if a conversation gets a little bit heated and someone has a gun on them, then what?
Is there anything about school shootings that people need to know from students?
I think what a lot of students want from our legislators is just for them to care. I think a lot of times [students] aren't taken seriously because of our age. But our lives matter, too. Just because the NRA is in the pockets of a lot of our legislators, the focus of these issues have been taken off of us, and money is being prioritized. We need to make sure that people are being prioritized over pocket change and politics. We need to make sure that we're keeping our youth protected... There's a lot of greediness going on, from the top down. So, we need to make sure that there's no room for greed within Washington.
Kingston High School, March 5
Nineteen days after the shooting in Parkland and one day after the shooting at Texas State University, high school students at Kingston High School in Cadet, Missouri, an unincorporated community in eastern Washington County, Missouri, were sent home early from school after a 17-year-old male student was found dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound in a school restroom shared by the Kingston junior high school and the high school.
Huffman High School, March 7
Metal detectors are in place at Huffman High School, one of the largest high schools in Birmingham, Alabama, but they were not in use on March 7, 21 days after the shooting in Parkland and two days after the shooting at Kingston High School. That morning, 17-year-old student Michael Jerome Barber came to school with a gun in tow. Later in the day, he accidentally fatally shot Courtlin Arrington, a 17-year-old senior who had already been admitted to college to study nursing, and another student who shortly afterwards was reported to be in critical condition. Two days later, Barber was charged with manslaughter and illegal gun possession.
Exactly one week later, during the National School Walkout, students across the country walked out of their classrooms at 10 AM local time and stayed outside for 17 minutes in honor of the 17 students and administrators that were slain at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. At Huffman High, however, the students who walked out stayed outside for 18 minutes, with an added minute to honor their own.
“A lot of [school shootings] are swept under the rug, said Fantasia Noack, a senior at Huffman High School and a close friend of Arrington’s, in an interview with Broadly. “Certain places only get a little bit of attention when something like this happens, but I think that awareness should be brought to any school shooting or any situation where someone lost their life due to the misuse of a lethal weapon.”
Broadly: What do you think needs to happen next?
Fantasia Noack: I think that adults and the authorities in the schools need to have a closer relationship with students… I think that a lot of things that happen in schools are because the adults don’t really listen to the students. The situation with the 17 kids [who were killed in Parkland], from my understanding, is that the kids reported that the boy was threatening to shoot the school, and it was ignored. Adults in schools always say, “Come talk to us if there’s a problem.” But if someone comes to talk to them and they’re not listened to, how does that help? I think if students come to administrators with issues, they need to be taken seriously. You might think he’s playing, but there are lives that are lost because of this.
The adults should pay attention to students and gain their trust so when things like this are about to happen, they could hopefully prevent it. …You never know the whole story and you don’t know what’s going on inside the person’s head who does these things, or why they felt it was necessary to do these things, or what’s hurting them on the inside. I feel like if they had someone to talk to, or someone that understood them maybe, or paid some attention to them, they wouldn’t react in certain situations.
Frederick Douglass High School, March 9
Twenty-three days after the shooting in Parkland and two days after the shooting at Huffman High School, a student suffered a self-inflicted gunshot wound while at school at Frederick Douglass High School in Lexington, Kentucky. According to local news station WSAZ 3, a student who was in the classroom at the time said another student was playing with a gun when it accidentally fired. In an official statement reported by WSAZ 3, Fayette County Public Schools spokeswoman Lisa Deffendall wrote, “No other students or staff were injured. The student has been taken to the hospital and is receiving medical care at this time. He is also facing charges of possession of a weapon on school property and wanton endangerment.”
George Washington Middle School, March 13
Twenty-seven days after the shooting in Parkland, four days after the shooting at Frederick Douglass High School, and one day before the planned National Walkout for gun control, a school resource officer at George Washington Middle School in Alexandria, Virginia, fired his gun in his office during school hours. According to an Alexandria Police Department statement, after the SRO fired his gun, he immediately checked for potential injuries and then contacted his supervisor and school staff. No one was harmed.
Miranda Tonsetic, a sixth grader at George Washington Middle School, was in class when the incident occurred. “His gun fired and went into a science classroom next door [to his office],” she told Broadly. “Kids were actually in that classroom but the bullet went through the wall into a refrigerator.” School administrators have not yet responded to Broadly’s requests to confirm the accuracy of this account.
Broadly: Do you feel safe at school?
Miranda Tonsetic: Definitely not. I’m part of a group working to stop guns in school and we brought up what happened at our school to [Virginia] Congressman Beyers. If trained professionals, who are in schools to protect the children, accidentally fire guns, then what would happen if we gave untrained teachers guns?
Do you think the students who walked out with you felt a sense of urgency because of the gun shooting accident the day before?
I think the timing of the accident was very important for the walkout. During the walkout, kids were talking about the day before and asking, “How could this happen at our school?” I’ve heard the Parkland kids say, “You never think this is going to happen to you” and that’s exactly what I thought. Now I stand corrected.
Seaside High School, March 13
On the same day as the lockdown at George Washington Middle School in Alexandria, Virginia, Dennis Alexander, a teacher at Seaside High School in Seaside, California accidentally fired a bullet while demonstrating how to empty a gun during class. When Alexander pointed the gun to the ceiling to make sure it wasn’t loaded, the weapon went off. According to the Seaside Police Department, no “serious injuries” were sustained. Three students were injured, however, including one 17-year-old who got bullet fragments lodged in their neck.
Ariana Tiedemann, a junior at Seaside High School, learned about the incident later that day through a text message from a friend at school.
Broadly: What has happened at your school since the accidental shooting?
Ariana Tiedemann: The day after the situation happened, we had a school walkout planned because it was the one-month anniversary of the Parkland shooting. I would say over 500 students walked out—it was probably our whole school. During the walkout, we addressed gun laws and all the shootings that have happened. At the very end, we addressed the Alexander situation. While we spoke about how guns shouldn’t be at school, we also brought up that Mr. Alexander had changed our lives and that he is a good man… He has student support and even the students who were in the classroom spoke, and they said they forgive him.
We hear about all these shootings, and people chalk it up as pro-gun or anti-gun. Do you think that what happened at your school fits either side of the gun control debate?
I think it does in a way, because even though it was an accident it really shows that we shouldn’t be arming teachers. I think this whole situation plays into that because Mr. Alexander was trained and he knows how to handle a gun but this still happened. I think we should not be arming teachers because Mr. Alexander is trained and knows what he can do. But imagine giving a gun to someone who had no idea and has never handled a gun before. The whole situation could have been worse.
Great Mills High School, March 20
On March 14, a month after the shooting in Parkland, thousands of students across the country walked out of their classrooms in solidarity with the Parkland student survivors and to demand policy change and national urgency concerning gun control. That day, students at Great Mills High School in Great Mills, Maryland, joined the nationwide movement and walked out of their classes.
Mollie Davis, a 17-year-old senior at Great Mills, recorded her school’s walkout and later posted the footage on her Twitter account. In the video, students at Great Mills who chose to walk out that day tell Davis, “The fact that we’re out here in the first place is very disheartening. If the system is not working in the first place, it’s up to us to change the system” and “We need to show that we have a voice. Even though we can’t vote quite yet, we’re still students and we’re the ones being affected.” Another student, using a megaphone during the walkout, referenced a shooting threat against the school that had started to circulate on Snapchat the month before. “My mother was crying the day we had a school shooter threat and begged me not to come get my education,” the student said. “She was scared I wouldn’t come out the next day.”
On March 20, eight days after the walkout, a 17-year-old student named Austin Wyatt Rollins walked into Great Mills High School with a pistol he had taken from his father. Before even the first school bell had rung, Rollins approached 16-year-old student Jaelynn Wiley and shot her in the head. Another student, 14-year-old Desmond Barnes, was shot in the leg.
During the shooting and the ensuing mass confusion, Mollie Davis, the Great Mills senior who created the walkout video calling for gun control and policy change just one week before, was hiding in her classroom. Confused and scared after hearing screaming from the hallways, Davis and her classmates learned about what was happening in their school from Twitter and various live news reports.
"The next generation of people voting were all born after Columbine shooting. We’ve known about school shootings since we were five years old."After Rollins shot his two schoolmates, he continued to roam the school hallways until he was confronted by school resource officer Blaine Gaskill. During their altercation, Rollins fatally shot himself in the head. Two days later, Jaelynn Wiley died after being taken off life support by her family.
“Going through a school shooting is extremely traumatic and jarring,” Mollie Davis told Broadly. “But I’m speaking out because it’s important and lives are at stake. During the school walkout, my friend said to me, ‘Parkland is a school just like ours. No school is immune to this kind of thing, and we need to stick up for ourselves.’”
Broadly: Can you tell me about your experience at your school on March 20th?
Mollie Davis: We heard people screaming. Fights happen at our school, so we thought it was a fight. But the screaming kept going, and it lasted longer than it would if it was just a fight, so people from my class walked out of the classroom to look down the staircase to the bottom floor. They saw people fleeing from the school, so it was obvious that something else was happening.
We saw the news articles while we were still on lockdown in the school. In my class, we were all very much in shock and didn’t really think it had really happened. It didn’t really hit me until we were being evacuated from the school, and I saw that the school was covered in police officers and SWAT teams. Then, I thought, Wow, this really did happen here.
On April 3, you went back to school for the first time since the shooting. Did you feel safe going back to school?
There is this underlying fear of the very small chance that what if this happens a second time. But we have more police officers this time. I guess because of that, I feel safer than I previously did. We previously had school resource officers in school and now they’ve added more. As a white person, it’s not a concern for me to have increased police presence in school, but my school has a large Black population and I’m concerned for them.
Now what do you think needs to happen to make students feel safe?
I think the most important thing people can do is vote. Our votes count, and if people can vote and they choose not to, that is a huge waste and very sad. Politicians have had a chance to act on [gun control] for so long. Watching certain ones not act is sad, and it is wrong. The next generation of people voting were all born after Columbine shooting. We’ve known about school shootings since we were five years old. I believe that we were raised to fear shootings, and we don’t want to raise our kids like this.
Forest High School, April 20
On April 20, exactly 19 years after the Columbine massacre, thousands of students across the country arrived at school prepared and determined to participate in the second national school walkout in order to demand action on gun reform and control. Like the first national school walkout for gun control, students planned on marching out of class at 10:00 AM local time. But before today’s walkouts even began, a school shooting occurred at Forest High School in Ocala, Florida. According to CNN, one student was shot in the ankle and a suspect is currently in police custody.