Threats Following Parkland Shooting

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Joe Raedle

<> on February 14, 2018 in Parkland, Florida.

Rachel Nelson, Reporter

17 killed in Parkland, Florida. Ages ranging from 14-49. Three staff members and 14 students. All killed by the same thing: gunshot wound.

The man responsible? Nikolas Cruz, a former student at the school- Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

One of the killed was a teacher named Scott Biegel. He was shot as he tried ushering students into his classroom when the shooting began. One of his students, Kelsey Friend, said that he was shot outside of his classroom and that he saved her life.

Another among the deceased was Aaron Feis, an assistant football coach at the school. He threw himself in front of students to protect them from the bullets. He suffered a gunshot wound and died after he was rushed into surgery. One of the students said that they saw him running towards the sounds of the gunshots. The student stated that that is the way the coach was: always putting others before himself.

Chris Hizon, the athletic director at MSDHS, was another staff member killed. His widow stated that he was a very kind man who would give students rides, he gave them lunch money and even opened up their home to the students when they needed it. He was said to have thought of every one of those kids as his own.

The rest of the deceased were all students at the school. Alyssa Alhadeff, Martin Duque Anguiano, Nicholas Dworet, Jaime Guttenberg, Luke Hoyer, Cara Loughran, Gina Montalto, Joaquin Oliver, Alaina Petty, Meadow Pollack, Helena Ramsey, Alex Schachter, Carmen Schentrup and Peter Wang.

Wang was shot and killed as he held open a door for his fellow classmates to escape to safety. Thousands of people have signed a White House petition asking for him to be buried with military honors. The petition says: “His selfless and heroic actions have led to the survival of dozens in the area.”

“I thought that the shooting was really disturbing, but not too much because that is now a normal thing in this community, which I believe needs to change,” said Jada Garza (‘20).

According to USA Today, there have been over 600 copycat threats targeting schools since the Parkland shooting on February 14.

Some of the students were only trying to funny by making empty threats. One girl even used it as an excuse to shut down school for the day so she could have more time to study for a test.

Even if they were only trying to be funny or didn’t mean anything by it, school administrators and authorities take them very seriously and there are serious consequences.

Many students across the country are facing felony charges, and the majority of them are minors.

In Florida, one threat was made by an 11-year-old student who wrote a threatening note and slipped it under the principal’s door. This student was arrested and told authorities that she was put up to it by another girl who threatened to beat her up if she didn’t do it.

In Texas, there was one coming from a 13-year-old boy arrested in Arlington on February 15 for threatening Nichols Junior High School. 17-year-old Diego Horta was arrested near Rowlett High School with a rifle and 100 rounds of ammunition found in his car. Horta was not a student at the school, as he was homeschooled. He was also found with a Halloween mask, but when police questioned him, he did not say anything about whether or not he was going to carry out the attack.

Additional threats were made in Maryland, Georgia, California, Vermont, Washington, Illinois, New Jersey and Arizona.

A threat in Vermont was made by 18-year-old Jack Sawyer. He was arrested for making threats to Haven High School, with charges of aggravated attempted murder, attempted first-degree murder and attempted aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

Keith Simmons shot himself in the bathrooms at Jackson Memorial Middle School in Ohio. He had originally been planning an attack on the the whole school, but instead took his own life. Simmons brought to school a rifle, 80 rounds of ammo and fireworks. He left behind a 13-page manifesto that detailed what he had planned. There was another threat in Columbus made by 18-year-old Deandre Fleming. He was charged with second-degree felony inducing panic. There were also other students arrested after being found with handguns in their backpacks.

More threats were made in Arkansas, New York, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Alabama, Missouri, Oklahoma and Kentucky. 

Things are hitting closer to home than some may realize. There were two shooting threats made within a week of each other at North.

A 15-year-old at North was arrested after making verbal threats to the school. A search of the freshman’s house revealed several guns. The week before this threat, there were two other threats investigated along the stateline. One at Auburn High School, which went on lockdown, and the other at Stillman Valley High School.

“I knew it was a scam and nothing was going to happen. I know that it is a big problem, but I wasn’t worried about it happening at North,” said Nina Piloni (‘20).

The second shooting threat to North came from a junior less than a week later. Although he said he only meant it as a joke, the school and the authorities took it seriously. He issued an apology over his Snapchat story and asked people to take screenshots and put it on their stories so that his apology could get around. It read:

‘Look, I realize what I did was wrong, I knew the second I wrote those 8 words that I couldn’t take it back, and god knows that I wish I could have, but I swear I didn’t mean any harm while writing that. It was all just a [messed] up thing that went bad and I know everyone at school hates my guts and thinks that I’m a [mess] up but I promise you that I’m a really good kid and I had no intentions on doing anything, because I love everyone and I could never do that to anyone, and now I have to pay for my actions, and I just wanna say I’m sorry to everyone at Belvidere North High School for the trouble I have caused, so all I ask if for anyone who sees this, just please repost it so that everyone has a chance to hear what I have to say. Thanks.’

After all of these threats, schools have to review how they assess the threats and their plans for any emergency situation. This year at North, despite the situations we’ve had, we haven’t gone through a single lockdown drill. How are students to know what they are supposed to do in the event of a lockdown if we don’t practice it? Students should know that if they are in the hallway when a lockdown happens, go to the nearest classroom and knock on the door. Students in the gym go into the locker rooms, and then listen to instructions from their teachers. Some students don’t know, which is why we need to have a drill or have a time in North Way where teachers tell their students what to do.

Many students are against the gun violence that is going around schools. There has been a national walkout planned by students worldwide after the Parkland shooting. It is set for March 14, one month after the massacre in Parkland, for 17 minutes at 10 am across each time zone. School faculty and students will all walk out for that time to honor those 17  killed in the shooting in Parkland and to protest gun violence.

Some of North’s students have talked with Principal Eckman, and he agreed that we should do a walkout. There will be a walkout on Wednesday, March 14, 2018, at 10 am.