Students, Teachers, Churchgoers, Journalists: The 56 Lives Lost in 5 Mass Shootings in 2018
TRAGEDY AND A CALL TO ACTION
After a shooter killed 17 people on Feb. 14 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., students there who participated in a Feb. 15 candlelight vigil (pictured) organized a national March for Our Lives campaign to advocate for changes in gun laws around the country. But 2018 still would see more mass shootings: 10 killed at Santa Fe High School in Texas on May 18; five killed in an Annapolis, Md., newsroom on June 28; 11 killed at Pittsburgh's Tree of Life synagogue on Oct. 27; and 13 killed in the Borderline Bar & Grill in Thousand Oaks, Calif., on Nov. 7. By year's end, reports The New York Times, more than half of the states would pass at least one gun control measure.
ALEX SCHACHTER, 14
Parkland, Fla., Feb. 14: Before a student gunman killed 17 students and staff members at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, the trombone player for the school's Eagle Regiment Band had "beamed with pride" when the band won the state championship in 2017. "He was a small kid with a tenacity and a quiet drive," said band director Alex Kaminsky. "He just decided, 'I'm going to go after this. I'm going to be an awesome trombone player.' He skyrocketed." He also loved playing basketball with pals. Said his dad, Max: "This little boy is a sweetheart."
CARMEN SCHENTRUP, 16
Parkland, Fla., Feb. 14: The 2018 National Merit Scholarship semifinalist "was more than the girl who read millions of books and played music and did art," said Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School classmate Sara Imam, who remembers her friend's "signature lopsided smile." Said Imam: "She brought to us joy and jokes dripping with sarcasm. She laughed with us; sang with us; cared for us. When any of us were sad or sick, Carmen was there to hug us and ask if we were okay. She was going to do great things."
LUKE HOYER, 15
Parkland, Fla., Feb. 14: The "always smiling" high school freshman who loved basketball, McDonald's Chicken McNuggets and mac-and-cheese was "a happy-go-lucky kid," said his aunt Joan Cox. "He never caused any trouble. He was just a good boy and had a great life." With an older brother in college and a sister who had recently moved away for work, he was tight with his mom, Cox said: "They were very close. He loved his family so much. She says she can't imagine life without him."
AARON FEIS, 37
The well-loved assistant football coach and campus security monitor at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School was killed protecting students. "He would do it again in a heartbeat," said his brother Raymond Feis. His sister Johanna Feis added, "Everything he did that day was in character for him." Said his longtime friend Dan Maurer: "He dealt with hundreds of kids every single year. I never heard a mean thing come out of his mouth. Big guy, big heart—and his heart was so much bigger."
MEADOW POLLACK, 18
Parkland, Fla., Feb. 14: Meadow loved animals, planned to attend Lynn University in nearby Boca Raton and had a boyfriend, Brandon Schoengrund, who memorialized her by saying at her funeral, "I knew God blessed me with an angel I would love for the rest of my life." Her father, Andrew, struggled with anger and grief, telling mourners, "This is just unimaginable to think that I will never see my princess again. This piece of s--- killed my kid, and I couldn't do anything about it."
ALAINA PETTY, 14
Parkland, Fla., Feb. 14: A member of JROTC described by her family as "vibrant and determined," Alaina joined her fellow Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints members to help those impacted in 2017 by Hurricane Irma. "Her selfless service brought peace and joy to those who had lost everything," the family said. "While we will not have the opportunity to watch her grow up and become the amazing woman we know she would become, we are keeping an eternal perspective."
NICHOLAS DWORET, 17
Parkland, Fla., Feb. 14: The senior swim team member at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School had recently returned from a visit to the University of Indianapolis, which awarded him an academic scholarship. Nicholas "dreamed of making the Olympic swim team and going to the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo," his family said. "He believed he could accomplish anything as long as he tried his best." His brother Alexander, a freshman at the high school, was injured in the shooting, grazed in the back of the head by a bullet.
CHRISTOPHER HIXON, 49
Parkland, Fla., Feb. 14: The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School's athletic director served in the Persian Gulf but switched to the military reserves after he and wife Debra had kids, including a special-needs son. Police said he was shot protecting students. "He loved to be supportive for those kids," Debra said. "I knew he would be right in the middle of what was going on as soon as I heard the shooting was happening. That was just who he was. I am so proud of him. He didn't think of himself."
MARTIN DUQUE ANGUIANO, 14
Parkland, Fla., Feb. 14: Martin was "a very funny kid, outgoing and sometimes really quiet," his brother Miguel shared on a GoFundMe page set up to help the family cover funeral expenses. Miguel had chronicled his family's hours-long search for Martin on Instagram before confirming his death. "He was sweet and caring and loved by all his family," he later wrote. "Most of all he was my baby brother." He added, "Words cannot describe my pain."
GINA MONTALTO, 14
Parkland, Fla., Feb. 14: The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School freshman color-guard member and talented artist "was a smart, loving, caring and strong girl who brightened any room she entered," her mother, Jennifer, wrote on Facebook. A classmate, Lauren Hogg, said, "I have never seen her when she wasn't smiling, and when she walked into the room, she was kind of like a firecracker. Everybody would see her and be happy." Her mother said she "will be missed by our family for all eternity."
PETER WANG, 15
Parkland, Fla., Feb. 14: Peter died wearing his JROTC uniform while holding a door open to let other Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students escape from the building ahead of him, a friend told Wang's cousin Lin Chen. "He is so brave," Chen said. "He is like the big brother everyone wished they had." Another cousin, Aaron Chen, said, "He wasn't just my cousin. He was my brother. He was my rock. And he was everything good that I strive to be."
JOAQUIN OLIVER, 17
Parkland, Fla., Feb. 14: Nicknamed "Guac," the popular Joaquin became a naturalized citizen last year but still rooted for the national soccer team in his native Venezuela, as well as for his buddies who played football and basketball for Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, said friend David Daboin. "He'd go to the games and cheer them on. He was a hype man. His personality could not be matched." He added, "He told me, 'If you ever need anything, let me know.' He was only one call away."
CARA LOUGHRAN, 14
Parkland, Fla., Feb. 14: The beach lover "always had a smile on her face," according to a Facebook post from Drake School of Irish Dance in South Florida, where Cara took classes. "We are absolutely gutted," her aunt Lindsay Fontana wrote on Facebook. "While your thoughts are appreciated, I beg you to DO SOMETHING. This should not have happened to our niece Cara and it cannot happen to other people's families."
JAIME GUTTENBERG, 14
Parkland, Fla., Feb. 14: A passionate dancer and dog lover whose favorite color was orange, Jaime dreamed of marrying at age 25 and working as an occupational therapist. An English test on To Kill a Mockingbird had her stressed the day before the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, but "she was such a sweet character and always, like, giggling in the class," said classmate Lauren Hogg. Jaime's father, Fred, wrote on Facebook, "My heart is broken. Hugs to all and hold your children tight."
SCOTT BEIGEL, 35
Parkland, Fla., Feb. 14: The geography teacher and cross-country running coach at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School is credited with saving students' lives before he was shot. At his memorial service his fiancée, Gwen Gossler, recalled watching a news report on a previous school shooting when Beigel had said, "Promise me if this ever happens to me, you will tell them the truth—tell them what a jerk I am. Don't talk about the hero stuff." "Okay, Scott," she said. "I did what you asked. Now I can tell the truth."
HELENA RAMSAY, 17
Parkland, Fla., Feb. 14: Despite an outward reserve, the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School junior "was so brilliant and witty," with "relentless motivation" focused on her academic success, a relative, Curtis Page Jr., posted on Facebook. "She was deeply loved and loved others even more so.... Her soft warm demeanor brought the best out in all who knew her." A cousin, Jamie Page, added, "She had so much potential."
ALYSSA ALHADEFF, 14
Parkland, Fla., Feb. 14: The competitive midfielder who wore No. 8 on her jersey for Parkland Soccer Club played "the best game of her life" the day before the shooting, her mother, Lori Alhadeff, told The New York Times. Alyssa was "so smart, an incredible creative writer, and all she had to offer the world was love," Lori wrote on Facebook. "A knife is stabbed in my heart. I wish I could have taken those bullets for you."
JARED CONARD BLACK, 17
Santa Fe, Texas, May 18: Jared had turned 17 just two days before a shooter killed 10 people at his Sante Fe High School — and was looking forward to a weekend pool party to celebrate the birthday. A game fan who loved to play Minecraft and Pokémon Go, he was also an art enthusiast who filled his Facebook page with vibrant cartoon drawings, and was killed in his favorite class, first-period art. Jared's brother Nick said in a statement, "We miss him so much."
AARON KYLE McLEOD, 15
Santa Fe, Texas, May 18: The Santa Fe High School freshman, known as "Kyle," had a generous nature that was "so sweet, so considerate," a former tennis partner, Cassandra Garza, 16, told The New York Times. "He was just so funny, so friendly," said another friend, Morgan Rowe. "He would do anything to help out his friends. He was really quick on his feet with a joke. He was such a bright light, and he made everyone's life better just by being there."
ANGELIQUE RAMIREZ, 15
Santa Fe, Texas, May 18: A devoted big sister to little brother Amadeus, Angelique was "a kind, compassionate and caring individual," wrote family friend Rebecca Ruiz in a GoFundMe post. "In losing Angelique, her friends and family lost so much." Her aunt Sylvia Pritchett wrote on Facebook that the family—Angelique lived with her mom, Robin, a graduate student, and her younger brother—had received the news of her death "with a broken heart and a soul that just can't process all this."
SHANA FISHER, 16
Santa Fe, Texas, May 18: "Shy and sweet," Shana was devoted to her dog Kallie and "had a lot of love in her heart," her mother, Sadie Baze, told the Houston Chronicle. Shana's aunt Ericha Fisher Farris wrote on Facebook: "She should be worrying about getting her driver's license, making plans for summer break, maybe start thinking junior year and making plans for college and what she wants to be when she grows up. She should be at home rolling her eyes from fighting with her little sister."
GLENDA ANN PERKINS, 64
Santa Fe, Texas, May 18: Known as Ann, the grandmother and substitute teacher at Santa Fe High School regularly marched with the all-female Tutu Live Krewe during Galveston's Mardi Gras celebration. In a statement her family encouraged those hurting after the school shooting to talk with friends and counselors "to successfully conquer this tragedy. Ann would want the students and faculty ... to whom she lovingly dedicated so much of her time, to remember to keep their hearts open."
CYNTHIA TISDALE, 63
Santa Fe, Texas, May 18: After her husband of 46 years, Rev. William Recie Tisdale, was diagnosed with an incurable lung disease, the grandmother and teacher's aide took a second job as a restaurant server to help make ends meet and "never complained," her brother-in-law John Tisdale wrote on Facebook. He also shared the note Cynthia left for her husband, telling him she loved him before leaving that fateful day. "If we could talk to Cynthia, who is in heaven," he said, "the first thing she would say is she is concerned how Recie is going to make it."
SABIKA SHEIKH, 17
Santa Fe, Texas, May 18: The high school exchange student from Pakistan dreamed of joining her home country's foreign service, her father, Aziz Sheikh, told the Los Angeles Times. With the school year ending, she looked forward to returning home to the port city of Karachi, anticipating her mom's cooking of her favorite meals, and had excitedly told her 9-year-old sister Soha in a call, "In 20 days we will be together," her sister said. "She had bought so many gifts for me." Said her father: "She was a great soul."
CHRISTIAN RILEY GARCIA, 15
Santa Fe, Texas, May 18: On summer lake trips with his family, the teen known as "Riley" loved to waterski, ride Jet Skis and night-fish, his cousin Ashley Fonseca told The Washington Post. About 10 days before the shooting at Santa Fe High School, he scribbled a psalm quotation on the doorframe of what was to be his new bedroom in a house under construction. It read: "Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations. I will be exalted in the earth."
CHRISTOPHER STONE, 17
Santa Fe, Texas, May 18: The football player and high school junior who loved the Dallas Cowboys "was just a loving person. There wasn't a mean bone in his body," said his older sister Angelica, 21. "He lived life to the fullest." An adventurer who enjoyed ziplining and hiking, he was protective of his sisters and "always there to listen, he had an open mind, there was nothing he would judge you about," she said. "I want him to be remembered as a sweet person who touched everybody's heart and not as a victim of another tragedy."
KIMBERLY JESSICA VAUGHAN, 14
Santa Fe, Texas, May 18: The lifelong Girl Scout and huge fan of the Harry Potter books was an enthusiastic American Sign Language student who wanted to create a program to help families communicate with kids using ASL, said her mom, Rhonda Hart: "She was a force to be reckoned with." Kimberly died alongside two other girls—something that sticks with her mom. "I like to think she was trying to help them get out of the way or comforting them," she said. "That's what helps me."
WENDI WINTERS, 65
Annapolis, Md., June 28: In the newsroom of the Capital Gazette where a gunman with a longstanding grudge against the paper killed five people, Winters likely saved others as she shouted and tried to block his entry. The "proud Navy mom," Red Cross volunteer and Girl Scout leader had joined the Gazette staff in 2013 after years of lively freelance reporting on community events. "My mother was a wonderful woman and a fantastic reporter," her daughter, Winters Geimer, told The Baltimore Sun. "Her life was a gift to everyone who knew her and the world will not be the same without her."
GERALD FISCHMAN, 61
Annapolis, Md., June 28: A sharp-but-shy editorial writer, always dressed in a tie and V-neck cardigan, he'd worked at the Capital Gazette for more than 25 years and startled the newsroom when he announced he'd met an opera singer from Mongolia online and married her. "We nearly fell out of our chairs," said his colleague Tom Marquardt. "He was a really smart guy, so smart that he tried out for Jeopardy! twice. But he couldn’t get accepted because they didn’t like his personality. That was Gerald’s spin, anyway."
JOHN McNAMARA, 56
Annapolis, Md., June 28: The jack-of-all-trades reporter and sports editor, affectionately called "Mac," had written two books on University of Maryland sports during his two decades at the Capital Gazette. A "loyal friend," in the words of fellow reporter Jeff Barker, "He was willing to mentor young journalists. In other words, he never allowed his professional distance to detract from just being a thoroughly decent person."
REBECCA SMITH, 34
Annapolis, Md., June 28: "Kind and considerate," according to her supervisor Marty Padden, Smith had joined the staff of the Gazette as a sales assistant only months prior to the shooting and was engaged to be married, a union that promised her a stepdaughter. "Endo Warrior. Dog Mom. Softball Fiancé," Smith described herself in her Facebook bio. "Bonus mom to the best kid ever."
ROB HIAASEN, 59
Annapolis, Md., June 28: The assistant editor and columnist for the Gazette had an eye for narrative detail, and died on his wife, Maria's, 58th birthday as she waited for him to come home before opening the present he'd left for her. "My brother wasn’t shot because he was in the wrong place at the wrong time," wrote best-selling novelist Carl Hiaasen. "He was shot because he was exactly where he was supposed to be, where he wanted to be, editing a newspaper on deadline for the readers in a town he loved." On Facebook, he added: "We called him Big Rob because he was so tall, but it was his remarkable heart and humor that made him larger than all of us."
RICHARD GOTTFRIED, 65
Pittsburgh, Oct. 27: Among the 11 who died in a gunman's anti-Semitic rampage inside the Tree of Life synagogue, Gottfried was a private-practice dentist who also worked part-time at the neighborhood's Squirrel Hill Health Center that serves uninsured patients. He and his wife, Margaret Durachko, who is Catholic, "embodied love," said a friend. "They embraced one another and our families in faith."