PARKLAND, Fla. — At least 1,000 people attended a candlelight vigil Thursday night for the 17 people killed in a Florida school shooting, some of the mourners sobbing openly as the victims’ names were read aloud.
“Each name was like my heart skipped a beat,” Bryan Herrera said.
The 17-year old soccer player said he initially hadn’t planned on attending the vigil. “I didn’t think I could handle it,” he said.
Dressed in the school’s red color, some held flowers while others wielded signs asking for action to fight school violence, including gun control.
At one point during the vigil, some in the crowd began shouting, “No more guns! No more guns!”
Tighe Barry held a yellow sign reading “NRA stop killing our kids.”
“I have two kids, and I think the only way it’s going to stop is if we get the gun lobbyists off the back of politicians,” Barry said.
Ernest Rospierski, a teacher at the school, took several bracing breaths at the vigil as he talked to a reporter about the horror in the school halls
“Bang, bang, bang — all of a sudden the shooting stopped,” he said. “I looked down. He was reloading. I yelled: Run. And then I ran behind as many kids as I could.”
Shay Makinde, 16, fought back tears for the friends he tried to save but could not. The junior pulled fleeing students from the hallway into a classroom. He turned to grab Joaquin Oliver but it was too late. The vigil “made me see my friend again and see him get shot and see his body on the floor.”
The vigil ended with a request for everyone to write one specific act of good that they would perform in the coming days and weeks as a way to channel the raw emotions of the night into something positive.