On February 14th, 2018, one of the deadliest school and mass shootings in U.S. history occurred at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. The Parkland shooting began before 3:00 pm, and resulted in the death of 17 adults and students. The person responsible for the shooting, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, was caught that day in Coral Springs by the Broward County Sheriff’s Office.
It started with the fire alarm going off at the Parkland High School. Students and teachers left the building like they normally would during a drill. As students and faculty started making their way outside, the shots started.
Cruz started firing at the people outside. Those outside ran back into the school building in the hopes to avoid the shooter. Cruz then followed the people into the school targeting classrooms with huddled students and faculty.
During this time, students texted their loved ones and posted to social media about what was happening, like this tweet below.
My school is being shot up and I am locked inside. I’m fucking scared right now. pic.twitter.com/mjiEmPvGNb
— Aidan Minoff (@TheCaptainAidan) February 14, 2018
It was later found that Cruz had purposely pulled the fire alarm to bring the school’s students and teachers outside.
This is a tragedy that no one should ever have to experience, and one that could have been prevented.
Nikolas Cruz: The Story Behind The Parkland Shooter
Nikolas Cruz had a troubled past. He lost his father over a decade ago, and his adoptive mother died from the flu and pneumonia back in November of 2017. After this occurred, a local family whose child went to High School with Cruz, took him in. The family helped him work on getting his GED, after he got expelled from Parkland High School, and got him a job at the local Dollar Tree.
With everything going on, Cruz had been dealing with depression and some mental illness. He did receive some treatment but stopped over a year ago. Knowing that Cruz had mental health issues, the family still took him in and allowed him to keep his gun. He had purchased the gun within the last year and passed a background check.
Besides his mental health issues and depression, there were other warning signs Cruz was troubled. He made multiple comments on YouTube and other platforms about wanting to shoot people with his gun. Apparently, in the past, the FBI was notified about one of the comments. However, at the time, the comment could not be traced back to Cruz. Also, Cruz posted on Instagram multiple photos of guns.
Even though the family claims they had no idea that Cruz was capable of shooting people and planning the Parkland shooting, clearly there were warning signs that Cruz had problems.
Watch the video below for more details on the Parkland shooting:
How This Could Have Been Prevented
The Parents Monitoring Cruz’s Phone and Social Media Activity
Based on the fact that there were several signs online that Cruz was having problems, the parents should have started monitoring his cell phone. That way, they could have seen his YouTube comments, Instagram photos, and text messages to students. This is a good idea for any parent to get insight as to what their kid is doing online.
Proper Treatment For His Mental Illness
If Cruz had the proper treatment for his mental illness and depression, the Parkland shooting could have been avoided. He only received treatment for a short time and stopped over a year ago. He should have continued receiving treatment especially after the loss of his adoptive mother.
More Focus On Improving Gun Control Laws Relating To Mental Illness
With the many mass shootings that have occurred over the past few years, there was and has been a focus on gun control laws. During the Obama-era, gun control laws were passed that made it harder for people with mental illnesses to get a gun. It was passed in December of 2016 in light of the Sandy Hook shooting but did not take full effect. In February of 2017, President Donald Trump revoked these Obama-era gun control laws. Since then, the President has not made any effort to improve gun control laws relating to mental health. In the future, laws relating to gun checks and mental health should be a priority on the National level.
The Parkland shooting is just one of at least four U.S. Middle and High School shootings to happen this year. Hopefully, this tragic event will inspire parents, schools, and lawmakers to take the precautionary methods necessary to prevent this from happening again.
My prayers go out to the victims and their families of this tragic event.