MSU students from Parkland reflect after high school shooting
For some individuals of MSU, a shooting which left 17 dead and several others wounded in Parkland, Florida just two weeks ago strikes far closer to home than it does for others.
Journalism junior Noah Lieberman attended Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, the site of the Feb. 14 shooting, before he attended MSU. Noah’s younger brother was there the day that the gunman, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, went into the school and opened fire on students and staff.
His brother was unharmed, but Noah talked about what was running through his mind when he first received word shots had been fired.
“I mean, every bad emotion you can possibly feel was in my body,” Noah said. “It was just terrible.”
Noah said he is looking forward to MSU’s spring break, during which he’ll return home to his brother, family and community.
“Now that it’s all just settling in, it’s still pretty tough but I think it’ll start to hit me when I go home for spring break next week,” Noah said.
Noah isn’t the only MSU student who has ties to the Parkland area. Jake Roell, an advertising senior who once attended Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, first received notice of the shooting from his father.
“My dad texted me about it on Valentine’s Day at like 3 o'clock, and he was like, ‘Hey, did you hear about the shooting back home?’ And I was like, ‘No, I didn’t,’” Roell said. “I instantly went to Facebook and looked it up and was just kind of speechless.”
As he drove around MSU’s campus that day, Roell reminisced about his time at the high school and the memories he made in Parkland.
“I just had a massive pit in my stomach because I just remember walking those halls and all of the memories I have,” Roell said. “My friends and I would ride our bikes right past where all the SWAT cars were, so it was just surreal to be looking at a tragedy like that in your hometown.”
Ron Lieberman, Noah’s father and an MSU alumnus, said his family is doing OK after the tragedy. He said he’d never expected anything like this to happen so near to him.
“I didn’t know that we would ever expect anything like this to happen anywhere in the country,” Ron said.
Ron has watched three of his sons graduate from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where he also coached ice hockey for seven years. To him, the community is like a family.
“The teachers from the elementary schools here, to the middle schools, to the high schools are phenomenal, and it’s been a great group of kids that my kids have grown up with through the years, so no, you’d never expect it in a community like this, nor would you expect it in any community in the United States,” Ron said
In the aftermath of the shooting, Ron said he hit a period of anger.
“I was very, very angry, and probably that’s the stages of where I’m at this point right now," Ron said.
In the wake of the shooting, multiple student groups around the country and some politicians have criticized the U.S. government’s response to the Parkland tragedy. Some, including students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas itself, have called for stricter gun control legislation that would include a ban on AR-15 rifles—the firearm used by Cruz to carry out the shooting.
“When you have anger, you've got to figure out who you want to point that anger towards,” Ron said. “I think everybody, especially the students, need to do what they feel is right to do. And I’m assuming that most of them have gone through the periods of what I’ve gone through, only more intensely.”
Ron said he believes there isn't enough being done when these situations happen.
“There’s a lot of blame to go around,” Ron said. “And I would tell you that since Columbine 20 years ago, we’ve had two Democratic presidents, two Republican presidents. Both times, the presidents had chances to have the Congress and the Senate, complete control, and nobody’s done anything.
“The government has not done anything, whether it was Republican or Democrat, and that’s … We’re all to blame. We’ve let our kids down. Everybody.”
Noah said he's seen a strong call for gun safety and control after the shooting. He said it is good to see the students are starting to call for everyone to work together to resolve gun violence.
“They’re handling it the best way they possibly can,” Noah said. “I don’t think this is going to be one thing fix all type of thing. I think this is going to take pressure from everybody, and until everybody wants to work together, nothing’s going to get done.”
Roell said the raw experience of what happened in Parkland is something no one should ever have to experience, especially in a school setting.
“My best friend’s younger sister was literally trapped in a closet and had no idea whether or not the next person that was going to open the closet door was either police coming to rescue or the shooter,” Roell said. “No student should ever have to witness that or be in that situation.”