3 Years Later, Remembering 17 Lives Lost in the Parkland High School Shooting

The mass shooting on Feb. 14, 2018, at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, sparked the national March for Our Lives movement to curb gun violence

School shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School - Parkland, FL
Photo: Matt McClain/The Washington Post/Getty
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Before a former student 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 friends. Said his dad, Max: “This little boy is a sweetheart.”

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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.”

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Joan Cox

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.”

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MS Douglas Football/Twitter

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.”

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Meadow Pollackhttps://www.gofundme.com/meadowpollackCredit: GoFundMe

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.”

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Courtesy of Ryan Petty

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.”

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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.

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https://www.gofundme.com/Chris-HixonChris HixonCredit: GoFundMe
Chris Hixon. GoFundMe

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.”

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https://www.gofundme.com/32z7etkMartin DuqueCredit: GoFundMe

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.”

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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.”

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Peter WangCredit: Facebook

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.”

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Joaquin Oliver/Instagram

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.”

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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.”

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Jaime Guttenberg/Facebook

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.”

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Scott Beigel/Facebook

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 quipped, “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.”

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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.”

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https://www.gofundme.com/alyssas-memorial-fundAlyssa AldaheffCredit: GoFundMe

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.”

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