It's More Than A Year Later, And My Heart Still Hurts For Parkland

It's More Than A Year Later, And My Heart Still Hurts For Parkland

Yes, February 14th was a hard day for anyone from Broward, but for those individuals EVERY day is a hard day.

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I will never forget when I found out about the shooting that occurred at MSD. I was in my high school English class, and got bored and decided to go on Twitter. There, I was overwhelmed with what I saw.

There have unfortunately been many shootings, all over the United States, and this was not the first school shooting, and it won't be the last. This one was just different, for me, it was the first one that I was immediately made aware of, and then followed for updates constantly. By the time I was usually made aware of a shooting it was in the following days once everything had occurred. But for this one, I felt as if I was in Florida. I was glued to my phone, waiting for any updates. They had no confirmed anything, just reports of open gunshots.

Videos surfaced in the hours following, and death tolls started to pile in. On February 14th, 2018, 17 individuals lost their lives. I was bothered, and extremely upset. I watched the news reports on it, read the posts from the grieving loved ones, and felt pain in my heart.

Coming into college, it did not even cross my mind that these people who experienced this trauma would soon be my peers. I mean I'm from a small town in New Jersey, and I picked a school two hours away from Broward in Florida.

At my college orientation a girl sat across from me as we were finalizing our major information on the computers, she asked my major and I responded with "communication, you?" She looked at me and said the following, " because of prior incidents that occurred within the past few months I have made the decision to pursue political science instead of following my passion for English."

I was puzzled, I looked at her and went, "I'm sorry, but I'm confused? What occurred?" she looked at me with eyes that showed hurt on a level I have never seen, and replied: "I went to Stony Douglas."

From that day on I have encountered many individuals who went to Stony Douglas, and I can tell you one thing. They all still feel that pain from that day. To pretend like they don't is ridiculous.

This isn't a political article- but more of a wake-up call.

We bring attention to Stony Douglas for this one day, a year later, but what about every other day. I have now lifetime friends who carry that trauma on their shoulders, and no amount of therapy or support will ever mend that damage that is done.

We can offer our love to them, and our condolences, but I'm letting you know that it will never erase that day. People lost their brother, their sister, their father, their best friends on that day. I don't know what we as a country is supposed to do, but how many more people have to suffer until we wake up.

How many more innocent individuals have to die? How many more kids have to live in constant fear that their school is next?

To Broward county as a whole,

Know that I stand with you. I offer you my support in any way you need. You are built up of the strongest individuals out there. My heart hurts for you every day. I can't imagine the pain you feel, just know that you are in my thoughts always.

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10 Deadliest School Shootings in U.S. History

These are ten of the most savage attacks on American innocence.
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School shootings in America trace back as early as the Settlers and Indians .

Over the years, attacks on schools have gotten progressively more brutal, senseless and deadly. Motives behind such occurrences are often blamed on social cliques and bullying or the perpetrators often suffer from mental illnesses or addiction.

Here are the 10 deadliest school shootings in American history:

10. West Nickel Mines Shooting

On October 2, 2006, milk-tank truck driver Charles Carl Roberts opened fire on a small Amish schoolhouse in Bart Township, Pennsylvania. Prior to going to the school, Roberts left a suicide note at home for his wife and children.

Roberts entered the one-room schoolhouse and ordered all the boys to leave, as well as one pregnant woman and three parents with infants. He ordered the remaining ten girls against the wall and held them hostage.

Sisters Mariah and Barbara Fisher, ages 13 and 11, courageously asked to be shot first in exchange for the lives of the other young girls; some were as young as six years old. Roberts killed Mariah and wounded Barbara. In addition, he shot eight out of the 10 girls, killing five of them.

9. Oikos University Shooting

43-year-old One L. Goh committed Oakland, California's deadliest mass killing on April 2, 2012, at the Korean Christian college Oikos University. Witnesses testify Goh stood up in his nursing class and ordered everyone against the wall at gun point.

One student recalls him yelling, "Get in line..I'm going to kill you all!" before firing. He killed seven people and wounded three others.

8. California State Fullerton Massacre

Custodian Edward Charles Allaway was reported as going "postal" on July 12, 1976 at California State University in Fullerton, California. The 37-year-old employee of the institute had a history of violence and mental illness, and was later diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic.

He was found insane by the judge of his trial for the murders. He called the police after killing seven people and wounding two others, and turned himself in. His motives behind the mass murder included him believing the university library was screening pornographic movies his wife was forced to appear in.

He is currently receiving medical treatment for his condition at the Patton State Hospital.

7. Red Lake Shootings

The Red Lake Indian Reservation in Red Lake, Minnesota will never quite be the same after events which occurred at the senior high school on March 21, 2005.

16-year-old Jeffrey Weise killed his grandfather (a tribal police officer) and his girlfriend. He then robbed his grandfather of police weapons and bullet proof vest, before ultimately driving to Red Lake Senior High School where he killed seven people and wounded five others.

Weise took a total of 10 lives that day, including himself. He committed suicide in a classroom after exchanging fire with police.

Witnesses reported Weise smiled while shooting his victims and questioned multiple students about their faith before firing.

6. Umpqua Community College Shooting

On October 1, 2015, 26-year-old Christopher Harper-Mercer committed the deadliest mass shooting in Oregon history. He killed nine people and injured seven others at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon.

He spared one person in the classroom he opened fire in, only to deliver a message to the police for him. Mercer was described as "hate filled" by those who knew him. In addition, he identified himself as a White Supremacist, anti religious and suffered from long term mental health issues.

Some theories behind the mass shooting were Mercer falling below a C average, putting him at risk for suspension, as well as him not being able to pay the tuition bill due.

He ultimately committed suicide after the attack.

5. Enoch Brown School Massacre

The Enoch Brown School Massacre is one of the first documented school shootings in U.S. history. On July 26, 1794, four Lenape Indians entered a Settler's schoolhouse in Delaware where they massacred school master Enoch Brown and nine children; they were shot and scalped.

Two children survived the attack and four others were kidnapped and taken as prisoners. This event is considered one of the most notorious incidents of the Pontiac War.

4. Columbine High School Massacre

High school seniors Eric Harris, 18, and Dylan Klebold, 17, may have not committed the deadliest school shooting in the U.S., but their killing spree at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado is considered one of the most infamous attacks in history.

It sparked numerous debates, including gun control, anti-depressant drugs and the influence social cliques, violent video games and bullying have on the mental health of high school students.

Harris and Klebold spent countless hours preparing for the events on April 20, 1999, which were documented in their "Basement Tapes." The tapes contained footage of the two boys having target practice with illegally obtained firearms, as well as a suicide message and apology to their parents.

Their ultimate goal was to be responsible for more victims than the Oklahoma City bombing, an event the boys idolized. The morning of the shootings, Harris and Klebold encountered one of their few friends Brooks Brown in the school parking lot.

Brown was one of the few students the shooters considered a friend; they told him to leave campus immediately because "something bad was about to happen."

Reports claim the boys targeted jocks, taunted people for their belief in Christianity and made jokes with each other while they killed their peers. Harris and Klebold took the lives of 13 people and injured 24.

They committed suicide in the library together.

3. UT Tower Shooting

On August 1, 1966, former Marine sharp-shooter Charles Whitman unleashed havoc on the campus of University of Texas in Austin, Texas.

Whitman positioned himself on the observation deck at the very top of the U.T. Tower; it was the perfect place for a sniper to have his pick of targets, considering you could see the entire campus from his vantage point.

He killed 14 people and wounded 31 others. Prior to his attack on campus, Whitman killed his wife and mother.

Post autopsy, it was theorized that Whitman's behavior might have been caused by a tumor found in his brain. Doctors and psychologists attribute the tumor to his impulsive, irrational behavior and his lack of a conscience.

This theory was supported by records of Whitman seeking professional help prior to the shooting for "overwhelming, violent impulses" he felt he couldn't control.

2. Sandy Hook Elementary Shooting

20-year-old Adam Peter Lanza is responsible for arguably the most senseless and brutal attack on a school in U.S. history.

On December 14, 2012 Lanza shook the town of Newtown, Connecticut when he attacked Sandy Hook Elementary School. Lanza killed his mother, before entering the school where he killed 26 people and inured two others; the majority of his victims were children aging from five to 10 years old.

He committed suicide upon completion of the attack. This shooting in particular confused both the media and authorities, because Lanza never offered a motive or reasoning behind the murder of his mother nor the horrendous mass slaying of innocent children.

1. Virginia Tech Massacre


Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in Blacksburg, Virginia came under attack on April 16, 2007. Senior student Seung-Hui Cho killed 32 people and injured 17 more in two attacks – one in a co-ed dormitory, the other in the Engineering, Science and Mechanics building.

He is noted as committing the deadliest attack on a school in U.S. history.

Cho was previously diagnosed with severe anxiety disorder; among the tapes he personally mailed to NBC news, Cho expressed his hatred for the wealthy, compared himself to Jesus Christ and explained that he was forced to commit the mass shooting due to voices in his head.

Virginia Tech has held the number one spot as deadliest school shooting for five years.

Holocaust survivor Liviu Librescu was a professor in the Engineering, Science and Mechanics department at the school, who was famously remembered for using his body as a barricade against the door during the attack; Librescu was killed during the attack but managed to hold the door closed long enough for all of his students to escape out the window.

Cho ultimately committed suicide following the shooting.

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The Active Shooter Threat At The University of Michigan May Have Been Unfounded, But The Reality Of The Threat Is NOT

As much as the police and the university want to tell us we're "safe," I don't feel safe, not really.

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This Saturday, March 16th, 2019, there was an active shooter threat here at the University of Michigan. And although the threat has been cleared, and it turned out to be a misunderstanding, it was still a jarring day for many.

This weekend was filled with early St. Patrick's Day parties and get-togethers, a very active campus of vulnerable students. It was a weekend of celebration before we got the announcement of the threat. And while I was not in the center of it, I was still shocked and scared. My day turned from one of average thoughts and actions, into one of worry and fear.

I was in my apartment off-campus that day, hanging out and not thinking about much. I had left my phone in the living room and went into my bedroom for a few minutes when I heard a couple of text notifications. I thought nothing of them. I got another, and still ignored it. Then I got a call, which actually made me get up to check. It was my sister, so of course, I answered.

I was a bit confused as to why she'd call me since we usually just message each other on a group chat, but I answered lightheartedly. She didn't even say "hi," only "where are you?" I was even more confused now and she had to repeat herself. She was only satisfied when I told her I was just at home.

Then she told me the news I'd hoped I'd never hear, "There's a shooter on campus, stay inside and lock your doors."

While the threat and situation have been cleared now, what she told me then was the only truth I knew at that moment. In that moment, and for a while afterward, I thought there was a shooter on my campus, in the very building in which I've taken the majority of my classes during my four years in college. I thought people's lives were at stake and that, even though I wasn't directly there, that my life was at stake too.

I didn't tell her that, and I tried not to let myself think it either. I couldn't process what she had told me, and to be honest, I still can't. As much as the police and the university want to tell us we're "safe," I don't feel safe, not really.

As dark as this may be, there were times when I had been sitting in class and could imagine the ease in which a shooter could come in. I think this has become an underlying nightmare in every student's mind: my school isn't safe.

But, it's not just a fear for students. Just last semester in class, my professor froze at a loud noise out in the hall and even jumped slightly when a student walked in late a minute later. That image almost makes you want to laugh until you realize that her reaction is due to a legitimate threat to our country.

This threat and fear are constant in everyday life now, and it doesn't end in schools.

The amount of violence, most notably gun violence, today surrounds us and has given the nation a uniform of PTSD. It is felt when a professor jumps at an opening door, when you have to suppress road rage in case another driver has a gun, and when the popping of balloons and screaming sets off an active shooter threat.

Yes, this threat turned out to be "unfounded," but the truth is that it could easily have been our reality.

After I hung up with my sister, exchanging purposeful "I love you"s, I checked every news and media outlet I could. What I found was breaking coverage, university community pages coming together, and concurrent emails from the university. Those emails began with, "Active shooter in Mason Hall. Run, hide, fight." And despite the following messages being assurances that there was not an active shooter, I don't think the words "run, hide, fight," will leave my memory anytime soon.

I've felt all of this while off-campus, and I can't imagine what it felt like for those who were in the building, and especially those who were just outside of the building during a vigil for the victims of the New Zealand attack.

While my hands were shaking in my safe and locked apartment, they were running to safety. While I tried to stop myself from thinking about what might be happening in Mason Hall, they were scared for their lives.

In those moments, the threat was real, and that's what matters to everyone affected. And to anyone who refuses to acknowledge that, you're part of the problem. The problem that continuously covers up what could have happened with what "actually" happened.

This campus and this community are so lucky to have each other's' support, and more importantly, our lives. We might not have had an active shooter, but others have. To not recognize the reality of unnecessary deaths, and the real possibility of history repeating itself is purposeful ignorance.

To my fellow Wolverines, I'm glad you are safe and alive. The support you've shown to each other is inspiring and makes me proud of this university.

To those who have known the reality of our threat, I'm so sorry. You are so strong and deserve the utmost respect. There is nothing you could have done to deserve what happened, and my thoughts and prayers are with you.

To those reading this, be mindful of the different ways people process difficult events like these. Do not make light of someone's reactions or experiences. Instead, help make people feel heard, and support healing and community to help combat the hatred that fuels this fear.

Even as I wrote this, my throat choked up and emotions flooded through me. This threat was a surreal moment that highlighted one of my deepest fears. We live in a culture where these threats and the precautions around them are real. Where actions and thoughts are dictated by the threat of unnecessary violence and hatred.

It is nothing new to say that we need to fix this, but we need to come together to do so. There are people in this world who do terrible things and we need to figure out why, so we can help them, so we can stop them.

I hope this threat and scare can be turned into an event of growth and understanding, that will help open up the conversation about the violence in this country, and around the world. We need to spread more universal love and understanding and stop promoting hate. It sounds simple, but it's true. And it will take hard work.

I thank God that this time a university and community was spared, but that doesn't stop the reality of hatred in the world. That will require much more work, determination, and purposeful actions of universal understanding. That requires communication and a deeper look not just into how, but why, these threats remain.

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