PARKLAND, Fla. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Students who escaped the deadly Valentine’s Day shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in South Florida directed their anger at lawmakers on Sunday, calling on them to act like “adults” in an effort to prevent further tragedies.
“The adult politicians have been playing around while my generation has been losing our lives,” Cameron Kasky, a student at Stoneman Douglas, told CBS News’ “Face the Nation” on Sunday. “If you see how they treat each other in the office, if you see the nasty, dirty things going on with them, it’s sad to think that that’s what they’re doing while 17 people are being slaughtered, gunned down only yards away from where we’re sitting right now.”
Kasky added, “This cannot be the normal. This can be changed and it will be changed. And anybody who tells you that it can’t, is buying into the facade of this being created by the people who have our blood on their hands.”
Student David Hogg directed blame squarely at President Donald Trump, calling his inability to pass mental health or gun control laws in a Republican-controlled House and Senate “pathetic.”
“We’ve seen a government shutdown. We’ve seen tax reform but nothing to save our children’s lives. Are you kidding me? You think now is the time to focus on the past and not the future to prevent the death of thousands of other children? You sicken me,” said Hogg.
Many students vowed to channel their plan into a call for action, vowing to honor the slain students’ memories by demanding change.
“There are children now, in this country who are afraid to go to school, thinking that that day is going to be their last,” said student Kirsten McConnell.
Students said at stake are their own lives.
“We shouldn’t accept things like this! They’re not something that should keep happening!” said student Diego Pfeiffer. “There’s nothing normal about this!”
Survivors of the shooting plan to hold a march on Washington next month under the banner of a new group called March for Our Lives.
“March for Our Lives has support from everybody. And at the end of the day this isn’t a red and blue thing. This isn’t Democrats or Republicans. This is about everybody and how we are begging for our lives and we are getting support. But we need to make real change here and that’s exactly what we’re going to do,” said Kasky.
Organizers behind the Women’s March, an anti-Trump and female empowerment protest, called for a 17-minute, nationwide walkout by teachers and students on March 14. The Network for Public Education, an advocacy organization for public schools, announced a day of walkouts, sit-ins and other events on school campuses on April 20, the anniversary of the 1999 shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado that left 12 students and one teacher dead.
The students’ message appeared to have gotten through to some political leaders.
“First thing I would say to, to those children and my own is – I’m sorry that you have grown up in, in a generation that has only known violence,” said U.S. Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-South Carolina).
On Sunday, lawmakers from both parties agreed that something needs to be done to stop school shootings.
“If you’re a strong Second Amendment person, you need to slow down and take a look at reasonable things that can be done to answer these young people,” said Ohio Gov. John Kasich.
But it is what should be done that remains an open question.
“All I’ve heard all week is how frustrated people are with rhetoric,” said U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Florida). “They want action.”
Meanwhile, school principal Ty Thompson delivered a message of his own.
“Eagles, I promise you, I will hug each and every one of you as many times as you need and I will hold you as long as you need me to – for all 3,300 of you and your families – and we will get through this together,” Thompson said.
Also in the wake of the deadly shooting, students, parents and members of the Parkland community gathered on Saturday to hold rallies and vigils, calling for action on the nation’s gun laws.
Plans for the protests circulated widely on social media, as students, parents, teachers and neighbors gathered to express their grief over the fatal shooting of 14 students and three staff members at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. Hundreds showed up at rallies in Fort Lauderdale, about 25 miles away, and in St. Petersburg, 250 miles northwest, to demand action on gun-control legislation.
“The fact that we can’t go to school and feel safe every day, when we’re supposed to feel safe, is a problem,” said Fabiana Corsa, a Florida high school student who attended the Fort Lauderdale gathering.
Corsa said legislators were “sacrificing students” in order to get money from the National Rifle Association.
The crowd at the rally chanted: “Vote them out!” and held signs calling for action. Some read: “#Never Again,” ”#Do something now” and “Don’t Let My Friends Die.”
As CBS News’ Kenneth Craig reported, the rallies were held as three more victims of the shooting rampage in Parkland, Florida were buried Sunday – including Scott Biegel, the geography teacher being called a hero for his efforts to shield students from gunfire.
Biegel, who grew up on Long Island, was killed as he shielded the students from the gunfire.
“The love we had for each other was special,” his wife said. “We completed each other and we made each other better.”
The rallies were also held as new details emerged about the suspect, Nikolas Cruz. Authorities say Cruz, 19, was a former student at Stoneman Douglas who had been expelled, had mental health issues and had been reported to law enforcement before he used a legally purchased semiautomatic rifle to take the lives of 17 people on Wednesday.
From a mosaic of public records, interviews with friends and family and online interactions, it appears Cruz was unstable and violent to himself and those around him — and that when notified about his threatening behavior, law enforcement did little to stop it.
Cruz’s mother died in November and his father died years ago. He reportedly left a suburban Palm Beach County mobile home where he had been staying after his mother’s death because his benefactor gave him an ultimatum: you or the gun.
The Sun-Sentinel reported that Florida’s Department of Children and Families investigated when Cruz posted a video on the social media network Snapchat showing him cutting his arms in 2016. “Mr. Cruz has fresh cuts on both his arms,” the Florida DCF abuse hotline was told in August 2016, the paper reported. “Mr. Cruz stated he plans to go out and buy a gun. It is unknown what he is buying the gun for.”
According to the paper, DCF’s investigation was completed that Nov. 12. The agency concluded Cruz had not been mistreated by his mother, was receiving adequate care from a mental health counselor and was attending school.
At school, Cruz routinely fought with teachers, was accused of swearing at staff and was referred for a “threat assessment” in January 2017, two months after the DCF investigation concluded, The New York Times reported Saturday, citing school disciplinary records it obtained.
The records show he was suspended several times in the 2016-17 school year and was frequently absent. They also show Cruz attended at least six schools, including a school for students with emotional problems, the newspaper said.
Cruz had been diagnosed with autism, a neurological disorder that often leads to social awkwardness and isolation, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD.
The FBI said a person close to Cruz called the FBI’s tip line and provided information about Cruz’s weapons and his erratic behavior. The caller was concerned Cruz could attack a school. The agency acknowledged the tip should have been shared with the FBI’s Miami office and investigated, but it was not.
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)