By: Ilana Siyance
Wednesday’s horrific Florida high-school shooting has left 17 people tragically massacred and 14 others wounded. The Parkland Jewish community believes that at least six of those killed were Jewish. The disturbing shooting is being called the deadliest school shooting since the 2012 Sandy Hook incident.
Several of those killed were participants at the Chabad centers in Parkland or nearby Coral Springs. “This is a small community, where nearly half of the population is Jewish, so everyone has been touched by what has happened,” said Rabbi Shuey Biston, director of the Chabad of Parkland, FL. “The phones at Chabad have been ringing off the wall as people come for emotional, spiritual, and material support,” he continued. Also a noteworthy percentage of the students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School are Jewish.
Authorities have not as yet identified all of the victims, and 10 students remain unaccounted for. As per Israel National News, names of the Jews confirmed dead in the shooting include Jaime Guttenberg (14), Alyssa Al-Hadeff (15), Meadow Pollack (18), geography teacher Scott Beigel (35), and the school’s athletic division director Chris Hixon (49), and a third staff member, Aaron Feis (37 years of age). Freshman Martin Duque (14) was also confirmed dead on Thursday. Rabbi Biston says that they have been in contact with Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel, also a member of Chabad, to get the bodies of the Jewish dead released for burial as soon as possible, in adherence to Jewish law. “There are no words to say at a time like this,” said Rabbi Mendy Gutnick, who spent the night praying with families who were still waiting for news on the fate of their children. “All you can do is hug, cry, and hold each other close.”
On Thursday, 19-year-old former student Nikolas Cruz was indicted and taken to jail on 17 counts of first degree murder after being grilled by state and federal law enforcement officials. He will be held without bail until the end of trial. Cruz, a foster child whose adoptive mother died about three months ago, had been expelled from Marjory Stoneman Douglas for disciplinary reasons last year. He was known to own a gun which he kept in a lockbox and had a key for. Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said the boy’s social media page alone paints a “very disturbing” picture, and the FBI says it had at least two threat reports about Cruz, as per CNN. President Trump tweeted on Thursday, “So many signs that the Florida shooter was mentally disturbed, even expelled from school for bad and erratic behavior. Neighbors and classmates knew he was a big problem. Must always report such instances to authorities, again and again!”