The father of an 18-year-old girl who was killed last week during a mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School gave an emotional speech at the White House Wednesday morning, during a meeting with parents and students affected by the massacre.
“We’re here because my daughter has no voice – she was murdered last week, shot nine times,” said Andrew Pollack, father of Meadow Pollack, one of the 17 victims killed during the massacre on February 14 in Parkland, Fla. “How many schools, how many children have to get shot?”
Pollack gave made an impassioned plea to President Trump in the video. He urged the administration to focus on keeping schools safe instead of arguing about laws and political differences.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Andrew Pollack Pleaded with President Trump to Turn His Focus on School Safety
Pollack was an unannounced guest at a listening session in the State Dining Room of the White House Wednesday, February 21, which called a session to discuss school safety, according to the New York Times.
“I can’t get on an airplane with a bottled water, but some animal can walk into a school and shoot our children,” Pollack said after taking the microphone. “It’s just not right and we need to come together as a country and work on what’s important, and that’s protecting our children in the schools. That’s the only thing that matters right now.”
“I’m never going to see my kid again,” Pollack told the president. “Never ever will I see my kid. I want that to sink in. It’s eternity. My beautiful daughter, I’ll never see again.”
President Trump opened the session with a speech about adding stronger background checks to those wishing to purchase guns, as well as emphasizing the “mental health of somebody” before they are allowed to purchase a weapon, the Times reports.
“We’re going to do something about this horrible situation,” Trump said, addressing the crowd.
You can view the entire speech here.
2. Pollack & His Family Frantically Tried to Reach Meadow After the Shooting, but Her Phone Just Kept Ringing
Eighteen-year-old Meadow Pollack was one of 17 victims shot to death when a former student allegedly stormed Stoneman Douglas and starting shooting students. According to the New York Post, Nikolas Cruz, 19, is accused of pulling the fire alarm in order to create panic and chaos before he allegedly started shooting.
Meadow’s family told The Palm Beach Post that Meadow was missing and that they had frantically called her cell phone when the news broke of the shooting, but it just continued ringing. Her family confirmed her death the following morning.
Cruz had reportedly been banned from the school shortly before the shorting for allegedly threatening his peers, student survivors told officials.
Survivors of the massacre have since been advocating for gun control, with many students speaking out against gun laws, planning large-scale protests and meeting with lawmakers to discuss gun control laws.
3. Pollack Broke Down at Daughter’s Funeral & Shouted, ‘You Killed my Kid’
Family and friends gathered at Temple K’ol Tikvah in Parkland on Friday afternoon to attend Meadow’s funeral. Hundreds of friends, family and members of the community gathered to remember Meadow and offer support to the grieving family as well as each other, the Sun Sentinel reports.
According to Action News Jax, Pollack slowly climbed the steps to the synagogue’s alter, looked down at his daughter’s coffin and shouted about how angry he was about her death.
“You killed my kid!” Pollack yelled, referring to Nikolas Cruz while addressing the congregation. “‘My kid is dead’ goes through my head all day and all night. I keep hearing it over and over.”
Pollack, consumed with grief, spoke of the helplessness of being a parent and not being able to protect to his child, reports the Sentinel.
“This is just unimaginable to think I will never see my princess again,” he said. “This piece of s— killed my kid, and I couldn’t do anything about it. That’s never happened to me in my life. I’m always able to protect my family in any situation.”
According to the Sentinel, Pollack held an umbrella to shield him from the sun as his daughter was lowered into the ground in a pine casket. She was buried at the Garden of Aaron Star of David Memorial Gardens in North Lauderdale.
4. Pollack Sat Outside the Hospital Waiting for News the Night of the Shooting
According to the Palm Beach Post, Pollack and his wife were searching for their daughter after news broke of the shooting, nervously waiting outside of a hospital in Broward County while showing a picture of Meadow on a cellphone to reporters.
“We can’t locate her. I keep looking at my phone,” Pollack told Palm Beach Post outside Broward Health North hospital. “I don’t know where to go from here.”
Pollack said he and his wife frantically tried calling Meadow, but her phone just kept ringing and ringing, Palm Beach Post reports.
According to the Post, her anxious parents waited to hear the words “we found her,” but they never came. Pollack announced Thursday morning that their daughter had died.
5. Pollack was Criticized for Wearing a Pro-Trump T-Shirt While Searching for his Daughter
Pollack was photographed by the Palm Beach Post holding up a cellphone picture of his missing daughter while wearing a “Trump 2020” t-shirt. The photo quickly circulated online, garnering some criticism from people who oppose President Trump.
“It is true that a relatively small number of people on Twitter did criticize Pollack on the grounds of his support for President Donald Trump,” Snopes reported. “One or two went out of their way to articulate their lack of sympathy for him, and even to blame him for his own daughter’s death.”
According to Snopes, Pollack was not “attacked” for his shirt, as many news outlets reported. Although some Twitter users expressed disgust for his t-shirt, Snopes determined that it was a very small percentage of social media users that criticized him.
“A far greater number expressed sympathy for the grieving father and criticized those speaking against him,” reports Snopes.
Snopes sifted through hundreds of comments posted to Pollack’s page in the aftermath of his daughter’s death and found only two comments that were arguably insensitive to Pollack’s loss and grief, but no posts personally attacking Pollack himself.