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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 24 June 2018

Florida school shooting victims identified

Three members of staff and 14 students died when 19-year-old former pupil attacked Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Valentine's Day

A woman places a poster of Meadow Pollack at one of 17 crosses set up for the victims of a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, in Parkland, Florida, on February 15, 2018. Gerald Herbert / AP Photo
A woman places a poster of Meadow Pollack at one of 17 crosses set up for the victims of a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, in Parkland, Florida, on February 15, 2018. Gerald Herbert / AP Photo

When a gunman opened fire with an AR-15 assault rifle at a large high school in south Florida, he claimed the lives of students with their whole lives ahead of them, along with those of the teachers who tried to protect them. Here is a look at the 17 people who were killed.

Aaron Feis, 37, assistant football coach

Feis was shot to death while shielding students from bullets. "He died a hero and he will forever be in our hearts and memories," the school's football programme tweeted.

Feis graduated from the school in 1999 and worked mainly with the junior varsity, the team website said. It said he lived in nearby Coral Springs with his wife and daughter.

The team website said Feis spent his entire coaching career at Marjory Stoneman after playing there as a student.

The Sun Sentinel reported that Feis, acting as a school security guard, responded to the original call on a school walkie-talkie. Someone on the radio asked if loud sounds they heard were firecrackers, said football coach Willis May, who also carries a radio.

"I heard Aaron say, 'No, that is not firecrackers.' That's the last I heard of him."

Joaquin Oliver, 17, was known by the nickname "Guac" because people had difficulty pronouncing his name correctly. Courtesy of Tyra Hemans via AP
Joaquin Oliver, 17, was known by the nickname "Guac" because people had difficulty pronouncing his name correctly. Courtesy of Tyra Hemans via AP

Joaquin Oliver, 17

Joaquin was known by the nickname "Guac", short for guacamole, because many could not pronounce his first name.

"My friend will literally never get to say, 'I graduated high school,'" said Tyra Hemans, a 19-year-old who said she had been friends with Joaquin since they were freshmen.

Tyra said she last saw her friend at school on the day of the shooting.

"It was just a brief 'Happy Valentine's,'" she said. "He was with his girlfriend and I was just like, 'Oh my God, you guys are so cute.'"

She added: "He's just a goofball. He's the only kid you'd know that would dye his hair bleach-blond, walk around school, put some tiger stripes in and just be unique. He was a unique soul."

Alyssa Alhadeff, 14

Alyssa's death was confirmed by the amateur football club for which she played.

Parkland Soccer Club posted on its Facebook page that Alyssa was a "loved and well respected member of our club and community".

The club posted a note it said was from her family which read: "To Alyssa's Friends honour Alyssa by doing something fabulous in your life. Don't ever give up and inspire for greatness. Live for Alyssa! Be her voice and breathe for her. Alyssa loved you all forever!"

Chris Hixon, 49, was the athletics director at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Susan Stocker / South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP
Chris Hixon, 49, was the athletics director at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Susan Stocker / South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP

Chris Hixon, 49, athletics director

A married father of two, Hixon was not shy about jumping in wherever he was needed, said friend and former colleague Dianne Sanzari.

When a volleyball team needed a fill-in coach, Hixon took over; the same thing happened with the wrestling team, Ms Sanzari said. And when the school needed someone to patrol the campus and monitor threats as a security specialist, Hixon did that, too.

It was in that security role that Hixon apparently came within range of the shooter.

Meadow Pollack, 18

Meadow's parents called her phone repeatedly only to hear it ring, as they kept an anxious vigil outside the hospital. But on Thursday, her father, Andrew Pollack, confirmed that his daughter was among the dead, the Palm Beach Post reported.

She had planned to attend Lynn University, he said.

"Her life was taken way too soon and I have no words to describe how this feels," a friend, Gii Lovito, posted on Facebook.

Family friend Adam Schachtel said in a Facebook post that "an angel was taken away from us in that horrific tragedy ... no words can be said so just prayers and sadness."

Alaina Petty, 14, had volunteered to clean up and assist victims after Hurricane Irma hit Florida in 2017. Courtesy of Claudette McMahon Joshi via AP
Alaina Petty, 14, had volunteered to clean up and assist victims after Hurricane Irma hit Florida in 2017. Courtesy of Claudette McMahon Joshi via AP

Alaina Petty, 14

"Alaina was a vibrant and determined young woman, loved by all who knew her. Alaina loved to serve," her family said in a statement.

Alaina had joined volunteers who "rushed to the most heavily impacted areas of Florida to clean up and help rebuild the lives of those devastated by Hurricane Irma", the family said. "Her selfless service brought peace and joy to those that had lost everything during the storm."

Stephen Thompson, the leader of the local Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints attended by Aliana, said she was a "valiant young member of the Coral Springs Ward".

Scott Beigel, 35, geography teacher

Students said Biegel helped them enter a locked classroom to avoid the gunman and paid for the brave act with his life.

"If the shooter would have come into the room, I probably wouldn't be speaking to you now," student Kelsey Friend told Good Morning America.

Kelsey said she followed other students toward the classroom after she heard gunshots and realised it was not a drill.

Beigel "unlocked the door and let us in", she said. "I thought he was behind me, but he wasn't. When he opened the door he had to relock it so we could stay safe, but he didn't get a chance to."

Bruna Oliveda, another student, said she saw Beigel blocking the door.

"I don't know how we're alive," she said.

Jaime Guttenberg, 14, loved to dance and hoped to become an occupational therapist. Abbie Youkilis via AP
Jaime Guttenberg, 14, loved to dance and hoped to become an occupational therapist. Abbie Youkilis via AP

Jaime Guttenberg, 14

Jaime loved to dance and hoped to become an occupational therapist and mother, her aunt Abbie Youkilis said.

"She always looked out for the underdog and the bullied and she probably had been kind to the student who shot her," Ms Youkilis said.

Jaime leaves her parents, Fred and Jennifer Guttenberg, and brother Jesse. Her father said in a Facebook post that he was "trying to figure out how my family gets through this".

Ms Youkilis called for gun-control legislation, saying Jaime's parents were "the world's most loving and over-protective parents but they could not protect Jaime from the sickness that has gripped our country".

Martin Duque, 14

Martin was "one of the nicest people I knew", said Isaac Briones, one of his best friends. "He was so caring."

Isaac said he last saw Martin during first period on the day of the shooting .

"We were just playing around, talking about jokes and stuff," said Isaac.

Miguel Duque wrote on Instagram that words could not describe the pain of losing his brother. He added: "I love brother Martin you'll be missed buddy. I know you're in a better place. Duques forever man I love you junior!!! R.I.P Martin Duque!"

Gina Montalto, 14, was described as " the sweetest soul ever" by one of her instructors. Facebook via AP
Gina Montalto, 14, was described as " the sweetest soul ever" by one of her instructors. Facebook via AP

Gina Montalto, 14

Gina was a freshman who participated in the winter colour guard squad at the school.

Friends and relatives posted tributes on Facebook, including her mother, Jennifer.

"She was a smart, loving, caring, and strong girl who brightened any room she entered. She will be missed by our family for all eternity," she said.

Gina was "the sweetest soul ever", one of her colour guard instructors from middle school, Manuel Miranda, told the Miami Herald.

"She was kind, caring, always smiling and wanting to help."

Carmen Schentrup, 16

Carmen was named one of 53 National Merit Scholarship Programme semifinalists in the county in September. "We all praised for her intelligence," a classmate tweeted.

Her cousin Matt Brandow posted on Facebook that Carmen visited Washington state recently and said she wanted to go to the University of Washington. He asked her: you like the rain?

"She answers, I hate sweating in the humid Florida weather," Mr Brandow wrote. "That's when I knew you were perfect for Washington."

Helena Ramsay, 17

Helena was soft-spoken but also smart and a go-getter, her cousin Sefena Cooper said.

She especially loved spending time with friends and family, "and for this to happen is heartbreaking", Ms Cooper said.

"Although somewhat reserved, she had a relentless motivation towards her academic studies and her soft warm demeanour brought the best out in all who knew her," another relative, Curtis Page Jr, wrote on Facebook.

"She was so brilliant and witty, and I'm still wrestling with the idea that she is actually gone," he wrote. "She would have started college next year."

Nicholas Dworet, 17, was a competitive swimmer who had already been selected by the University of Indianapolis. Social media / Handout via Reuters
Nicholas Dworet, 17, was a competitive swimmer who had already been selected by the University of Indianapolis. Social media / Handout via Reuters

Nicholas Dworet, 17

Nicholas had committed to swim for the University of Indianapolis, which issued a statement on his death.

University swimming coach Jason Hite called Nicholas an "energetic and very vibrant kind" who cheered for his soon-to-be university during a swimming meet last month.

"I spoke with his mom this morning, and she reiterated the fact that he was really looking forward to this next step in his life and becoming a Hound," said Mr Hite. "He really felt like he had a family in the team, and was really excited about what we're doing up here."

Peter Wang, 15

Peter was a Reserve Officers Training Corps student who was not interested in status but wanted to help others, relatives said.

A cousin, Aaron Chen, told the Miami Herald that Peter was last seen holding a door open so others could get away from the gunman.

Friends and relatives first thought Peter was just missing and checked with local hospitals. They later found out he had been killed.

"He wasn't supposed to die," Mr Chen told First Coast News.

Luke Hoyer, 15, loved basketball and was described as always smiling by his aunt, Joan Cox. Joan Cox via AP
Luke Hoyer, 15, loved basketball and was described as always smiling by his aunt, Joan Cox. Joan Cox via AP

Luke Hoyer, 15

Luke was a loving, sweet person who loved basketball and "smiled all the time", his aunt Joan Cox said.

"He was just a good kid ... very loving and just enjoyed life," said Ms Cox, of Greenville, South Carolina.

She said Luke's parents, Gena and Tom Hoyer, searched for their son at hospitals before finally going to the law enforcement command centre, where they learnt he had died.

"It's just a terrible thing," said Ms Cox, who said the family — including Luke's older sister Abby and brother Jake — spent Christmas with her and other relatives. "We just all pretty much can't get over it."

Alex Schachter, 14

A trombone and baritone player, Alex was a "sweetheart of a kid", his family posted on social media.

A relative of his father, Max Schachter, wrote on a gofundme page that he was starting a scholarship fund "to help other students experience the joys of music as well as fund increased security at schools".

The message said: "Please help keep Alex's spirit alive."

Cara Loughran, 14

Cara was an excellent student who loved the beach and her cousins, her family said.

An aunt, Lindsay Fontana, wrote on Facebook: "I had to tell my 8-year-old daughters that their sweet cousin Cara was killed in the shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School yesterday. We are absolutely gutted."

"While your thoughts are appreciated, I beg you to DO SOMETHING," she wrote. "This should not have happened to our niece Cara and it cannot happen to other people's families."

Cara's neighbour posted a picture of her cheering on a young boy riding a bike with training wheels.

"RIP Cara," Danny Vogel wrote, "and fly with the angels. You will be greatly missed, and we will always love you and celebrate your beautiful life."

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Read more:

Race hate group claims to have trained Florida gunman

Authorities accused of missing warning signs over Florida school shootings

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