By nightfall on Valentine’s Day, the family of Alyssa Miriam Alhadeff still did not know if the 14-year-old had survived the unthinkable: a mass shooting at her high school, nestled in the safest city in Florida. But soon enough they would learn the worst. Police charged Nickolas Cruz with 17 counts of premeditated murder.
The 19-year-old former Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student confessed to police.
Alyssa was a full-of-life young girl whose only care that morning was would she get a Valentine.
Many family and friends have been posting tributes to the teen and here are some of those. But also, demanding action by politicians to enact much tougher gun laws, especially on automatic weapons; Cruz was armed with an assault rifle. They are not the only family in Parkland, or indeed across the US and world demanding the same.
1. The Jewish Community Has Rallied Around Alyssa’s Family
Alyssa attended CTeen, a Jewish life community center in New Jersey. Teenagers there honored their friend with a community bake and gathering.
In a Facebook post, Estie Orenstein of Valley Chabad recalled that Alyssa was a “sweet, kind, smart and beautiful girl.”
Alyssa, whose Instagram account is set to private, notes in her bio that she graduates Chalutzim this year; Chalutzim ’18, she wrote. Chalutzim is a Hebrew curriculum for high school-age kids.
2. Alyssa’s Family Moved From New Jersey in 2014 & She Brought Her Soccer Ball With Her
The Alhadeff family lived in Bergen County from 2010 to 2014 before moving to Florida about the time when Alyssa would be starting middle school. While in Jersey, Alyssa played on a youth soccer team in 2011; she was around 7 at the time. Since arriving in Parkland, she played for the local soccer club, the Parkland Travel Soccer team. She was number 8 and dreamed of being a professional soccer player.
The soccer team, stunned, shaken and grieving, paid tribute to Alyssa.
3. Alyssa Wasn’t Looking Forward to Valentine’s Day, Her Mother Said
In a heartbreaking video she posted on Facebook, Alyssa’s mother Lori explained, in a deeply poignant moment where you could likely hear a tear drop, that all Alyssa wanted was a Valenine: “She even posted on Instagram she wasn’t looking forward” to the holiday focused on romantic love. “She just wanted somebody to love her.” Alyssa, albeit 14, was nearly 15, she might say; her birthday is in May. Lori gave her a Valentine’s gift bag full of her favorite things, drove her to school and, “I told Alyssa, ‘I love you.’ And that was the last time I would see or speak with my daughter.”
4. Like Many Other Families, Alyssa’s Was Searching For Her After The Shooting
Not unlike many of the families of the 17 people killed, three adults and 14 students, there was the wait. Notifications, as happened to other victim’s families, were not made until late on the night of the 14th. Alyssa’s family members split up and went to two area hospitals, and struggling to get information, posted a plea.
5. Alyssa’s Family is Grief-Stricken, Devastated & They Are Demanding Action
Alyssa’s funeral was held at the Star of David Memorial Gardens on Friday. Feb. 16, a blue-sky day in south Florida. Michelle Dibble, Alyssa’s cousin said, “I can’t find the words to discuss what a difficult day it was saying ‘Goodbye’ to Alyssa. Her story was just starting…”
The day before, Alyssa’s grieving Mother Lori who had just completed making funeral arrangements for her daughter did not hold back in an interview with CNN,directing her anger and grief at the president: “President Trump, please do something. Do something. Action. We need it now. These kids need safety now.”
“How, how do we allow a gunman to come into our children’s school? How do they get through security? What security is there? There’s no metal detectors. The gunman, a crazy person, just walks right into the school, knocks down the window of my child’s door and starts shooting. Shooting her! And killing her!”
“President Trump, you say, ‘What can you do?’ You can stop the guns from getting into these children’s hands. Put metal detectors at every entrance to the schools. What can you do? You can do a lot! This is not fair to our families and our children to go to school and have to get killed!”
“I just spent the last two hours putting together the burial arrangements for my daughter’s funeral, who is 14,” Lori Alhadeff wailed.
A GoFundMe memorial has been set up for Aylssa, her mother Lori confirms it is legitimate and created by Alyssa’s friend Lara Kalidyn.