Fred Guttenberg, who lost his daughter, Jaime, in Wednesday’s shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High, tearfully addressed hundreds of mourners Thursday night at a candlelight vigil in Parkland, Fla.
“I don’t know what I do next,” he said, his voice breaking. “Don’t tell me there’s no such thing as gun violence. It happened in Parkland.”
Guttenberg told the gathering he’d lost his brother in October to cancer related to the Sept. 11 attacks.
“This is worse,” he said.
Politicians, clergy and first responders sat on the Parkland Amphitheater’s stage in front of a row of lighted angels. In front of them, the stage was lined with candles, flowers and hand-written messages brought by mourners.
A Douglas High football player, who lost his coach, Aaron Feis, brought a bouquet given to him by his father, who entered a CVS store to purchase the flowers. When the store learned what they were for, it would not accept payment.
Sheriff Scott Israel received a loud ovation when he said, “We will introduce common-sense gun laws and make our streets safer.”
Turning to politicians, including Gov. Rick Scott, Israel warned that if they continue to support gun laws as they’re currently written, “You will not get re-elected in Broward County.”
Later, a chant broke out: “No more guns! No more guns! No more guns!”
Douglas Principal Ty Thompson said he’d received countless emails of support from as far away as Australia. He said earlier in the day, he took a call from Dawn Hochsprung, who offered advice on how to deal with the tragedy because there is no playbook for administrators to handle such mass grief by children.
A rabbi opened the one-hour program by acknowledging the difficulty of grasping the fact that 17 lives have been lost.
“They say that God doesn’t give one more than they can handle,” he said. “But this is pushing it.”
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