Throughout the crowd at the Pine Trails Park Amphitheater in Parkland, people greeted one another with hugs and tears.
Many were dressed in the school’s red color, some held flowers, while others wielded signs asking for action to fight school violence, including gun control.
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,” he said.
Seventeen crosses lined the grass field as Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students released lit lanterns into the air.
Colton Haab, 17, shared thoughts of his beloved football coach, Aaron Feis who shielded students from the gunfire.
“He was so brave,” said Haab. “He made sure others could live and get away. He gave up his own life for them.”
A variety of faith leaders helped pray and comfort anyone who needed it.
“I told this one girl that I had the opportunity to just hug and embrace and comfort and to let her know that God is grieving, that He is here, that He is grieving with us, that they’re not alone, that He is here in the midst of the pain and the grief, and His love is present,” Sandy Motherwell said during the vigil.
Nikolas Cruz Says ‘Demon’ Voices Told Him to Do It
Earlier Thursday morning, 19-year-old shooter Nikolas Cruz was arraigned, appearing before the judge shackled and wearing an orange jump suit.
He remained silent and was denied bond.
New details are surfacing about Cruz who has now confessed to police that he did carry out the massacre.
Cruz has reportedly said “demons” told him to carry out the school shooting. He’s now on suicide watch.
“Cruz stated that he was the gunman who entered the school campus armed with a AR-15 and began shooting students that he saw in the hallways and on the school grounds,” states a report from the Broward Sheriff’s Office.
“Cruz stated that he brought additional loaded magazines to the school and kept them hidden in a backpack until he got on campus to begin his assault.”
The gunman had arrived at the school in an Uber car at 2:19 p.m. Wednesday.
Authorities say after the shooting, Cruz discarded his rifle, slipped out in the crowd of fleeing students and headed to Walmart.
He ordered a drink at the Subway inside the store and then walked to nearby McDonald’s.
Later, walking down the street, he was arrested by an alert officer who recognized his description.
Cruz, who lost his mother in November and his father several years ago, legally purchased the AR-15 rifle used in the shooting, last February.
President Trump Addresses Shooting
President Trump offered comforting words but no policy prescriptions when he addressed a grieving nation the day after the deadly school shooting.
“To every parent, teacher, and child who is hurting so badly, we are here for you, whatever you need, whatever we can do, to ease your pain,” Trump said Thursday morning. “We are all joined together as one American family, and your suffering is our burden also.”
“No child,” he added, “no teacher, should ever be in danger in an American school.”
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