FAU College Democrats honor victims of Parkland shooting

An FAU freshman who graduated from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High recalled his interactions with Nikolas Cruz the night before the shooting.


22-year-old graduate student Tori Sletzer, left, holds her friend Taylor Miller, a junior elementary education major, right, during a prayer at the candlelight vigil. Both students attended Marjory Douglas High School and knew the football coach, Aaron Feis, who died shielding other students from gunfire. | Alexander Rodriguez

Alexander Rodriguez, News Editor

Two days after the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, FAU students and the community came together to remember the 17 people killed.


The FAU College Democrats held a candlelight vigil at the Free Speech Lawn outside the Social Science building Friday night. They gave out candles and posters marked with the names of victims.


“There needs to be a discussion but ultimately our goal is to honor the lives of those lost,” Justin Atkins said, president of the College Democrats.


Atkins, an Afghanistan combat war veteran, supports the Second Amendment but believes legislation needs to change the gun laws in this country.  


“We still took measure in the military from this certain thing happening,” Atkins said. “The military itself takes more precautions with firearms within its organization than we do in the state of Florida.”


Participants formed a circle underneath the Social Science building to discuss the shooting.


“The realities of gun violence in the United States only become more real when it happens so close to home,” Vice President of FAU College Democrats Sophie Siegel said.


She asked the audience to pray for the victims’ families and hold their loved ones close after this tragic incident.


Freshman mechanical engineer major Brian Halem told the University Press he had recently graduated from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High and knew the shooter, Nikolas Cruz. 


“I should’ve noticed when [Cruz] started talking about tactics and gas masks,” Halem said while tearing up. “I should’ve realized something was wrong.”


Halem also worked with Cruz at the Parkland Dollar Tree. The last time they spoke was when Halem was buying Valentine’s Day cards ー the night before the shooting.  


“I lost two good friends in the shooting,” Halem said. “I can’t help but feel partially responsible.”

FAU students and the public community formed a circle beneath the Social Science building to talk and send prayers during a candlelight vigil. This comes two days after the Marjory Stonemna Douglas High School mass shooting that left 17 people dead. Alexander Rodriguez | News Editor


Two Park Vista High School seniors, Jessica Saunders and Lindsey McFarland, came out to the vigil to send prayers and express their desire for tougher gun control regulation.


“It shouldn’t be this easy. I could go get a gun right now like it’s that simple,” Saunders said. “There needs to be a stricter process.”


“How many more children, how many more teachers have to die for them to finally say, ‘OK, let’s change something,’” McFarland said. “We shouldn’t have to wait. It needs to end now.”


More than 50 people from FAU and the surrounding community came to the Boca campus to remember the lives lost in the tragedy.

Alexander Rodriguez is the news editor of the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected] or tweet @AARodriguezz93.