SEVERE WX : Winter Weather Advisory View Alerts

Hugs, tears and police: High school reopens after shooting

Students and teachers hugged and cried Wednesday as they returned under heavy police guard to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School for the first time since a teenager with an assault rifle killed 17 people

Posted: Feb 28, 2018 4:20 PM

PARKLAND, Fla. (AP) — Students and teachers hugged and cried Wednesday as they returned under heavy police guard to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School for the first time since a teenager with an assault rifle killed 17 people and thrust the huge Florida school into the center of a renewed national gun debate.

The half-day began with fourth period so that the nearly 3,300 students could first be with the people they were with during the shooting.

“In the beginning, everyone was super serious, but then everyone cheered up and it started being the same vibes we had before the shooting. People started laughing and joking around,” said Kyle Kashuv, a junior who said he hugged every single teacher.

On the way in, teens were guarded by hundreds of police officers. The police were accompanied by comfort animals, including dogs, horses and a donkey. One of the horses had “eagle pride” painted on its side. A nearby woman held a sign offering “free kisses.”

After school dismissed, members of the Guardian Angels wearing their trademark red berets lined the streets at a crosswalk.

Kashuv said he was amazed by the outpouring of support from the community, including the police presence, the animals and many well-wishers. There were letters from all over the world and “banners on every single wall,” he said.

There’s heavy security at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School as classes resumed for the first time since 17 students and teachers were killed by a teenager with an AR-15, thrusting them into the center of the nation’s gun debate. (Feb. 28)

Some of the officers carried military-style rifles, and Superintendent Robert Runcie said a heavy police presence would continue for the remainder of the school year. The heavy arms rattled some students.

“This is a picture of education in fear in this country. The NRA wants more people just like this, with that exact firearm, to scare more people and sell more guns,” said David Hogg, who has become a leading voice in the student movement to restrict assault weapons.

About 150 grief counselors were on campus “to provide a lot of love, a lot of understanding” and to help students “ease back” into their school routines, Runcie said.

The freshman building where the Feb. 14 massacre took place remained cordoned off.

Students were told leave their backpacks at home. Principal Ty Thomas tweeted that the school’s focus would be on “emotional readiness and comfort, not curriculum.”

In each classroom, colored pencils, coloring books, stress balls and toys were available to help students cope.

“It’s not how you go down. It’s how you get back up,” said Casey Sherman, a 17-year-old junior. She said she was not afraid to be return, “just nervous.”

Then she saw all the officers.

“Oh, wow, there are a lot of police,” she said as she pulled up to the entrance. “Oh my goodness, yeah, that is a lot.”

Many students said the debate over new gun laws helped them process the traumatic event and prepared them to return.

Alexis Grogan, a 15-year-old sophomore, was concerned that it might be too soon to go on as usual without slain friends such as Luke Hoyer, who sat two seats behind her in Spanish class. But the effort to strengthen gun laws has buoyed her spirits.

“I am so proud of how the kids at my school have been fighting because we all want change to happen and, as we see the progression, it really shows us that people do care. And they do hear what we have to say,” Grogan said in a text message.

As students went back to class, Dick’s Sporting Goods, a major U.S. retailer, announced that it would immediately halt sales of assault-style rifles and high-capacity magazines at all of its stores and ban the sale of all guns to anyone under 21.

A House committee voted Tuesday in favor of a bill to raise the minimum age to buy long guns from 18 to 21 and to create a program allowing teachers to carry concealed weapons in classrooms if their school district allows it. Those teachers would receive law-enforcement training and get deputized by the local sheriff’s office.

State lawmakers continued their investigation of how the suspected shooter, Nikolas Cruz, managed to slip through local law enforcement despite previous warning signs.

The Florida House voted Wednesday to subpoena records from Broward County and the school board, as well as sheriff’s offices in Broward and Palm Beach counties and the city of Coral Springs. The subpoenas demand that the records be turned over by Tuesday.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott said he hopes a gun and school-safety bill is passed before the annual legislative session ends March 9. The measures he proposed did not include arming teachers, but he declined to say Tuesday whether he would veto a sweeping package that includes that provision.

The Broward superintendent has spoken out firmly against the idea of arming teachers.

Marion Hammer, a lobbyist for the National Rifle Association and Unified Sportsmen of Florida, said she supports school security and keeping guns out of the hands of the mentally ill, but “guns are not the problem.”

Kashuv said he was most moved by a tattoo his teacher got that said “MSD Strong” with a giant eagle.

“The shooting doesn’t define us,” he said. “We’re really moving past it and trying to heal right now.”

___

Associated Press writers Brendan Farrington in Tallahassee, Florida, and Curt Anderson in Miami contributed to this report. Video journalist Robert Ray also contributed.

___

Follow the AP’s complete coverage of the Florida school shooting here: https://apnews.com/tag/Floridaschoolshooting .

Terre Haute
Cloudy
34° wxIcon
Hi: 39° Lo: 29°
Feels Like: 29°
Robinson
Cloudy
32° wxIcon
Hi: 41° Lo: 28°
Feels Like: 32°
Indianapolis/Eagle Creek
Cloudy
31° wxIcon
Hi: 34° Lo: 28°
Feels Like: 25°
Paris
Mostly Cloudy
31° wxIcon
Hi: 37° Lo: 28°
Feels Like: 31°
Mattoon/Charleston
Cloudy
32° wxIcon
Hi: 39° Lo: 29°
Feels Like: 26°
Terre Haute
Cloudy
34° wxIcon
Hi: 37° Lo: 28°
Feels Like: 29°
Terre Haute
Cloudy
34° wxIcon
Hi: 40° Lo: 28°
Feels Like: 29°
Snow Possible
WTHI Planner
WTHI Temps
WTHI Radar

WTHI Events

 

Illinois Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 7 p.m. CT)

Cases: 1068829

Reported Deaths: 20050
CountyCasesDeaths
Cook4330899005
DuPage687371145
Will57945867
Lake53068884
Kane45704675
Winnebago26161407
Madison24144462
St. Clair22065424
McHenry21498248
Champaign1534996
Peoria14905239
Sangamon14469234
McLean13143159
Tazewell11860242
Rock Island11834302
Kankakee11431179
Kendall961678
LaSalle9392247
Macon8775179
Vermilion7447112
DeKalb741592
Adams7304117
Williamson6146116
Boone552377
Whiteside5243173
Clinton498985
Coles469080
Ogle458271
Knox4577140
Grundy433954
Effingham429868
Jackson415667
Henry399676
Marion3958111
Franklin382068
Macoupin381094
Randolph370468
Livingston362466
Monroe354570
Stephenson349974
Jefferson3409104
Morgan324189
Woodford317266
Logan307556
Montgomery303141
Lee302472
Bureau299684
Christian297473
Fayette289853
Perry266360
Iroquois257756
Fulton254449
Jersey219456
Lawrence216730
McDonough213251
Saline201453
Douglas198633
Union197332
Shelby196135
Crawford175334
Cass174731
Bond173124
Warren158043
Pike153946
Richland152744
Wayne150343
Jo Daviess148124
Hancock146933
Clark146529
Washington144325
Edgar142753
Carroll142333
Ford138049
Moultrie136428
White132530
Clay130939
Greene125242
Johnson121115
Mercer116729
Piatt116716
Wabash116414
Mason116240
De Witt113527
Cumberland107527
Jasper103816
Massac101430
Menard86810
Hamilton71416
Marshall66213
Schuyler61716
Pulaski6093
Brown60711
Stark49420
Edwards4609
Henderson45116
Calhoun4374
Alexander3887
Gallatin3854
Scott3731
Putnam3452
Hardin3018
Pope2432
Unassigned1100
Out of IL330

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 8 p.m. ET)

Cases: 590211

Reported Deaths: 9310
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion815581297
Lake44306666
Allen31919541
Hamilton28371304
St. Joseph26766371
Elkhart24098341
Vanderburgh18643213
Tippecanoe17422121
Johnson14496284
Porter14399160
Hendricks13870241
Madison10561212
Vigo10483171
Clark10240130
Monroe9076108
Delaware8836132
LaPorte8771155
Howard7897138
Kosciusko787277
Warrick643890
Hancock638797
Bartholomew626694
Floyd6150105
Wayne5933157
Grant5818110
Dubois544372
Boone534367
Morgan516291
Marshall494184
Henry493664
Cass471760
Noble460557
Dearborn458444
Jackson414745
Shelby402179
Lawrence380575
Clinton364539
Gibson356556
DeKalb337363
Montgomery334851
Harrison328542
Knox327839
Miami309843
Steuben306340
Adams295235
Whitley294125
Wabash293045
Ripley292345
Putnam284847
Huntington283557
Jasper282433
White267538
Daviess261672
Jefferson250738
Fayette242348
Decatur242182
Greene233360
Posey232326
Wells229447
LaGrange224161
Clay217932
Scott216937
Randolph208340
Jennings192535
Sullivan189031
Spencer181917
Fountain179725
Washington177118
Starke171341
Jay162821
Owen159537
Fulton159229
Carroll152115
Orange151433
Rush149918
Perry147227
Vermillion144933
Franklin143433
Parke12908
Tipton128232
Pike113625
Blackford107522
Pulaski95237
Newton89421
Brown85530
Benton84310
Crawford7579
Martin70013
Warren6587
Switzerland6205
Union6113
Ohio4677
Unassigned0374