Parkland survivors in Orlando to discuss school safety

- “At one point a student handed me her cell phone and there was a text message. ‘We’re in Mr. Beigel’s room. He’s dead. We just watched our teacher die.’”

Debbie Jacobson recalled that memory for a room of approximately 800 victim’s advocates, law enforcement and attorneys from across the country who gathered Thursday for the National Center for Victims of Crimes’ annual conference.

The panel included four teachers, a student and a parent directly affected by the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida in February.  

“It’s such a part of our lives and we want people to remember us,” Jacobson said.  

They say: remember their stories and help them make changes.  

 “In the short term we want to see higher funding for schools and school safety measures enacted.

Things that will deter people from getting on to campus.  I think those are really important,” said teacher Melissa Falkowski.  

Long term, they’re asking for legislative changes that would lead to better mental health services and “common-sense” reforms to gun laws.

“Universal background checks, extreme risk protection orders that allow law enforcement to have the tools they need to keep society safe,” said Tony Montalto.  He lost his daughter, Gina, in the tragedy. 

“It doesn’t matter whether you’re in Orlando, Chicago, L.A., Boise, this could happen anywhere.  And we all need to come together to make our children and our teachers safe in school,” Montalto said.

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