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Gutknecht: School shooting victims deserve our respect

Last week I refrained from talking about the Parkland, Florida school shooting in my weekly column. It’s not because I was attempting to ignore the event, but I had not quite wrapped my head around this tragic incident.

Seventeen people lost their lives that day. Seventeen people walked into that school Feb. 14, 2018 as teachers, coaches or students and never walked out. That is absolutely devastating.

I will not talk about the shooter in this column. We will hear enough about him as his criminal trial plays out. I will, instead, use this space for the victims.

Below, I have listed the names of everyone who lost their life Feb. 14 in the Parkland, Florida school shooting. Do not forget these names. These innocent bystanders deserve our upmost respect and their families deserve our condolences.

Alyssa Alhadeff, 14

Scott Beigel, 35

Martin Duque Anguiano, 14

Nicholas Dworet, 17

Aaron Feis, 37

Jaime Guttenberg, 14

Chris Hixon, 49

Luke Hoyer, 15

Cara Loughran, 14

Gina Montalto, 14

Joaquin Oliver, 17

Alaina Petty, 14

Meadow Pollack, 18

Helena Ramsay, 17

Alex Schachter, 14

Carmen Schentrup, 16

Peter Wang, 15

It is now up to us to make sure these 17 people did not lose their lives for nothing. It is time for a serious conversation.

I graduated from Heritage High School, in Conyers. While I was not there during the school shooting in 1999, I was there for an anniversary year and remember how fear still filled my principal’s eyes as he was asked to think back on the day for a story for the student newspaper. I also remember when T.J. Solomon, the shooter, was release from prison about a year and a half ago.

Now, can you imagine the weight the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School will forever carry around with them? They will never be the same.

Is this a mental health issue? Is this a gun control issue? We’ll let the politicians figure that out. In the meantime, I encourage you to wrap your arms around the ones you love and remember those who have lost their lives in the mix of this conversation.

Jackie Gutknecht is the managing editor of The Covington News. She can be reached at 770-728-1409 or Twitter: @jackieg1991