iLocal News Archives

Florida shooting: West Point admits murdered hero

From BBC

A reserves trainee who died helping other students escape a Florida school shooting has been posthumously accepted to a prestigious US military school.

Peter Wang, 15, who was one of 17 killed in the 14 February attack, was admitted to the class of 2025 at his dream school, West Point Academy.

He was a member of the US Army Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC), a school programme for potential US military officers.

His funeral took place on Tuesday.

The school will confer a letter of admission and honorarium tokens to his family, local West Point alumni Chad Maxey told the Sun Sentinel newspaper.

Florida Governor Rick Scott also reportedly directed the state’s National Guard to honour Peter and two other members of the JROTC at their funerals.

The US Army bestowed the Medal of Heroism to three students who were killed, including Peter, according to US media.

The Cadet Command approved Junior ROTC Heroism Medals for cadets Alaina Petty, Peter Wang and Martin Duque, an army spokesman told Fox News.

Peter was in uniform when he was fatally shot while holding the door for others fleeing a gunman at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, witnesses say.

The recognition comes after an online petition called for him to be laid to rest with military honours, saying he “deserves” to be buried as a hero, because “his selfless and heroic actions have led to the survival of dozens in the area”.

Peter, who had spent part of his childhood in his parents’ native China, had dreamed of attending the West Point military academy, friends say.

Jesse Pan, a neighbour and longstanding friend of Peter’s family, told the BBC Chinese Service he had tried to support the teenager’s parents as they struggled to cope with the loss.

“I was there with his parents, helping translating and finding a funeral home,” he said.

“His parents fainted as soon as they saw his body. He had got multiple shots in front… So horrible.”

Meanwhile, about 100 students from Stoneman Douglas are travelling by bus to the Florida state capitol, where they plan to hold a rally against gun violence on Wednesday.

Their school was the scene of a deadly rampage last week, when an ex-student confessed to opening fire with an AR-15 assault rifle which he had purchased legally despite several mental health warnings.

The Stoneman Douglas students, who are out of school until it is due to reopen on 27 February, are hoping their march inspires others across the US.

A larger protest is being planned for Washington DC on 24 March.

In the wake of the shooting, a city leader in Dallas has asked the National Rifle Association (NRA) to move their annual convention.

“It is a tough call when you ask the NRA to reconsider coming to Dallas,” said Mayor Pro Tem Dwaine Caraway, according to local media.

The mayor cited past shootings in the Texas city, including the assassination of President John F Kennedy and the murder of five police officers in 2016.

Nikolas Cruz had moved in with a friend, who also attended the school, after his adoptive mother died in 2017.

The parents who hosted Mr Cruz, James and Kimberly Snead, told CBS News the teenager was depressed but they did not realise how troubled he was.

“The Nik we knew was not the Nik that everybody else seemed to know,” James Snead told CBS.

“He pulled one over on us. As well as a lot of people,” Mrs Snead said.

Mr Snead, a US army veteran, said he knew Mr Cruz had guns but believed he had the only key to the safe where they were located. He added that it was Mr Cruz’s right to have guns.

Law enforcement officials say that Mr Cruz had legally purchased seven rifles in the last year, despite several mental health warnings.

The couple also told ABC News that Mr Cruz had texted their son only three minutes before the attack began in Parkland, Florida to say he was “going to the movies”.

When they first saw him at the police station after he was arrested, he “mumbled” an apology to the parents.

Documents obtained by CBS show that Mr Cruz and his late adoptive mother, Lynda Cruz, had been visited by Florida’s Department of Children and Families (DCF) after allegations of medical neglect in September 2016.

The investigator reportedly determined that Mr Cruz suffered from depression, ADHD and autism, cut his arms in a post on social media and once plastered a racist message on his school backpack.

Officials closed the investigation after deciding that he was not being mistreated, according to CBS News.

Mr Cruz told child service investigators that “he plans to go out and buy a gun”, according to a DCF report.

Media caption Students staged an anti-gun ‘lie-in’
Image copyright ABC Image caption James and Kimberly Snead told ABC about how they took in the troubled teenager after his adopted mum died
Media caption Emma Gonzalez told a rally that the massacre was not only a mental health issue


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *