Ryan Deitsch, a senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, will be one of the students speaking during CNN’s Town Hall tonight, “Stand Up: The Students of Stoneman Douglas Demand Action.” The senior student journalist doesn’t blend into a crowd. With bright red hair that some say reminds them of Archie from the popular show Riverdale, he’s just as outspoken as the character he’s sometimes compared to. He was at the school during the shooting, filming what was happening, and now he’s willing to talk to anyone who will listen. Deitsch, 18, traveled with about 100 students and other members of his community to Washington, D.C. to speak to members of the Legislature. They left Tuesday night and met with Senators and Representatives today. Here’s everything you need to know about Deitsch.
1. Deitsch, a Senior, Filmed the Horrifying Shooting from Inside the School
Deitsch, an aspiring journalist and student producer for the school newsroom, hid in a closet when the shooting first began. SWAT teams later arrived and evacuated him and his peers to the library. During the evacuation, he filmed what was happening, capturing students walking with their hands over their heads, and an officer telling students to sit on the floor. He said that teachers and local law enforcement were swift and did a good job at keeping people safe. He has taken multiple videos of what happened at his school during the shooting and shared them on Twitter.
2. He Is the President & Founder of Stoneman High School’s Improv Club, But Now He’s Taken a More Serious Turn
During a speech in Tallahassee to reporters, Deitsch mentioned that he was president and founder of his school’s improv club. He said he didn’t have a speech prepared, but he hoped his experience in the club might help him to share his thoughts.
“What can I say that everyone else hasn’t already put so eloquently?” he asked, appearing overwhelmed by the media attention. “… For the longest time, I’ve only perceived Douglas as a school of entitled children…and now I’m left thinking that these are powerful speakers…this is the future.”
He said his fellow students are speaking out against the loss of innocent lives, and no matter how many people died, the legislature has not taken action.
“They’ve used political double talk as much as they can, and it’s not a weapon that I want them to be able to use anymore,” he said during a press conference. “The more they don’t act, the more they don’t deserve to be in office.”
Deitsch admitted that as a high school senior, he doesn’t know exactly what action should be taken. “I just know what we’re doing now is nowhere near enough… If I have to keep seeing friends die… America does not deserve this.”
3. Dietsch Called Out the Media for Sensationalizing Shooters: ‘These People Are Looking for Infamy’
He said that while he appreciates the media’s attention, he also hopes they will show some respect for how they cover funerals and times of grief. He talked about how he left one funeral early because the grief was just so overwhelming.
“When I see a camera tracking me as I cry, walking out of a church, that is not acceptable… That popularizes the idea that if these killers are out there, if they have these guns, they will use them, and they will get on some leader board…”
He talked about seeing a “Top 10 Shootings in America” story the day after the tragic shooting, and his school was at number 9.
“There should not be some grading score,” he said, adding that shooters should not be able to know where they rank in a list of school shootings. “These people are looking for infamy, these people are going out there, getting attention, and America should not stand for that.”
4. He’s Been Active on Twitter, Sharing His Experiences And Desire For People to Take Action
Deitsch hasn’t just been on the news, he’s also been on social media sharing his thoughts and reactions to the events that happened at his school. “We are the generation that was born after Columbine,” he said. “We have lived with this our entire lives.” He said that even in fifth grade, he had to stay in a bathroom, hiding, because of a shooting in the area. “We are done hiding… America is done hiding.”
Here are some of the tweets he has shared recently:
5. He’s Encouraging People to Participate in Marches to Show Their Support for the Students
“We’re going around and we’re doing what we can, but we’re not gods,” he said. “We’re high schoolers. We’re just trying to do literally anything we can. And if you have something to offer and you’re just doing it out of the goodness of your heart to make sure the world’s a better place, we welcome you.”
Deitsch said he’s a busboy at a restaurant right now, and the restaurant has been very supportive, saying that he and other students can have anything they need. “They said I’m not fired for at least the next two weeks,” he said with a laugh, “so that’s the main ticket that I’m living on here.”
Deitsch is very supportive of the March for Our Lives event happening nationwide on March 24 and the Never Again Movement.
“That’s super important,” he said about March for Our Lives and other movements. “All this is happening all at once… So many different cities have contacted us… but we don’t want them to stop. It doesn’t matter how hard this gets, it doesn’t matter how much sleep we lose, it doesn’t matter how many meals we miss, all we want to do is do what we have to to make sure that this does not happen again. We don’t have to have another group of teenagers come into this studio and say the terrible shooting that happened. We just don’t want to see all this bloodshed keep happening.”