Florida school shooting victims: Student shot dead as he held door open for classmates to escape

·Freelance Writer

As the United States comes to terms with another mass shooting, the victims of the tragedy are beginning to be identified.

Suspected gunman, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, is believed to have been armed with an AR-15 assault rifle when he stormed the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, and slaughtered 17 people.

One student, Peter Wang, was shot dead as he held open a door so that his classmates could escape the massacre.

Peter Wang
Peter Wang

His cousin Aaron saw the heroic 15-year-old holding the door as shots were fired.

‘He wasn’t supposed to die. He was supposed to grow old with me,’ Aaron told First Coast News.

One victim was football coach Aaron Feis, who used his body as a shield to protect a student during the massacre.

<em>Coach Aaron Feis died after using his body to protect children from bullets (Facebook)</em>
Coach Aaron Feis died after using his body to protect children from bullets (Facebook)

Reports state that Mr Feis, who is the father to a young daughter, gave up his life while protecting the pupil.

He was initially reported to be in a critical condition in hospital but died from his injuries.

Nicholas Dworet
Nicholas Dworet

Another victim, Nicholas Dworet, had committed to swim for the University of Indianapolis.

The college announced on Thursday that the senior was among those killed.

17-year-old Helena Ramsay, 14-year-old Alex Schachter and 14-year-old Cara Loughran were also victims of the atrocity.

Helena’s cousin, Sefena Cooper, described her as ‘soft-spoken’ but also ‘smart and a go-getter’.

Alex’s father posted on social media that he was a trombone and baritone player. Max Schachter said he is starting a scholarship fund in his son’s name.

Cara’s aunt, Lindsay Fontana, called her an excellent student who loved the beach and her cousins.

In a Facebook post, she implored people to “to DO SOMETHING. This should not have happened to our niece Cara and it cannot happen to other people’s families.”

Gina Montalto
Gina Montalto

Victim Gina Montalto was a 14-year-old freshman who participated on the winter colour guard squad at the school.

Her mother, Jennifer Montalto, called her “a smart, loving, caring, and strong girl who brightened any room she entered”.

Family members confirmed the deaths of Carmen Schentrup.

Carmen’s cousin Matt Brandow posted on Facebook that the 16-year-old had recently visited Washington State and said she wanted to go to the University of Washington.

In September, she was named one of 53 National Merit Scholarship Programme semi-finalists in the county.

Victim Martin Duque was “one of the nicest people I knew”, his 15-year-old friend, Isaac Briones, said.

Isaac said he last saw Martin on the day of the shooting during first period when they were “just playing around, talking about jokes and stuff”.

Jaime Guttenberg
Jaime Guttenberg

Ninth-grader Jaime Guttenberg was killed by the gunman.

In a written statement to the Associated Press, her aunt, Abbie Youkilis, said the 14-year-old “was a pretty girl with the world’s best smile and her soul was sensitive and compassionate”.

Her father said in a Facebook post that he is “trying to figure out how my family gets through this”.

Joaquin Oliver
Joaquin Oliver

Friends confirmed senior student Joaquin Oliver was among the dead.

Nineteen-year-old Tyra Hemans said they had been friends since they were freshmen.

She was also outside the school on Thursday, holding up two signs, one about gun control and the other about coach Aaron Feis and Joaquin, widely known by his nickname “Guac”.

A 35-year-old geography teacher was killed after helping students enter a locked classroom to avoid the gunman. Students credited Scott Beigel with saving their lives.

Alyssa Alhadeff, a soccer player, was also confirmed dead. Parkland Soccer Club posted on Facebook that Alyssa was a “loved and well-respected member of our club and community”.

Alaina Petty
Alaina Petty

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said on Thursday that 14-year-old Alaina Petty died in the shooting and 17-year-old Madeleine Wilford was seriously injured. Both girls were members of the religion’s congregation in Coral Springs.

<em>Athletics director Chris Hixon is believed to be among the victims (Facebook)</em>
Athletics director Chris Hixon is believed to be among the victims (Facebook)

School athletics director Chris Hixon, is among the victims of the shooting.

When the school needed someone to patrol the campus and monitor threats as a security specialist, Mr Hixon took the job.

It was in that role that he apparently came within range of the gunman.

Victim Meadow Pollack’s parents called her phone repeatedly only to hear it ring, as they kept an anxious vigil outside the hospital.

The Palm Beach Post reported on Thursday that her father, Andrew Pollack, confirmed that his 18-year-old daughter was among the dead. He said she had planned to attend Lynn University.

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