Parkland Shooting: Youth-led town hall in San Diego tackles gun violence

By Chris Gros, Reporter, CBS News 8

SAN DIEGO (NEWS 8 / AP) – On February 14, 2018, Aalayahh Eastmond was in class at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida when a gunman opened fire.

Seventeen lives were lost that day.

The massacre on Valentine's Day inflamed the nation's debate over guns, turned some Parkland students into political activists and gave rise to some of the biggest youth demonstrations since the Vietnam era.

One year later, Aalayah and other Parkland shooting survivors joined San Diego students, educators and law enforcement at a Team Enough San Diego town hall to discuss ways to keep communities safe from gun violence.

“It is very important that we continue to honor those that cannot speak anymore with action so no others will not get their voices taken away from them,” she said.

Stephan Abrams is one of the local students that helped organize the discussion. Abrams described Friday’s event at Canyon Crest Academy as non-partisan – key to advancing the topic. “Gun violence has been an issue for decades. We need to come together and find a starting point because nobody likes gun violence.”

Also, in attendance was Robert Schentrup. He graduated from Stoneman Douglas a year before the shooting, but his younger sister, Carmen, was killed that day. “I don’t get to see her get married. I don’t get to see her express all the joys in life.” Robert has now dedicated much of his life to preventing similar tragedies. “A lot of us are honoring their memory with our action saying your death will not be in vain,” he said.

Aalaya now a senior at Stoneman Douglas. She said she wants to use her platform to reach undeserved communities. “A majority of gun violence occurs in marginalized communities, black and brown communities. Urban communities. It’s an issue that they have to face every day, yet, nobody listens to their stories or their voices.”

Students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High and other schools across the U.S. bowed their heads in a moment of silence and took part in volunteer projects Thursday to mark the anniversary of the shooting rampage.

The former student accused of opening fire with an AR-15 assault rifle in the Parkland attack, Nikolas Cruz, now 20, is awaiting trial.

Kristen Panebianco