Hundreds of mourners flooded the Star of David Funeral Chapel in North Lauderdale, spilling into the lobby and outside the building Friday for the funeral of 14-year-old Alyssa Alhadeff, the first of 17 goodbyes in a devastated community after Wednesday’s shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
“I wish I could’ve taken those bullets for you, Alyssa,” said her mother, Lori Alhadeff. “I would have protected you.”
With classes canceled at the high school, many students attended the funeral and burial of one of the shooting’s youngest victims. Tears flowed and students hugged each other tightly. Broward County School Superintendent Robert Runcie also attended.
“This has changed our entire community forever,” Rabbi Mendy Gutnick said. “It’s not just a loss to our community. It’s a loss to humanity as a whole. Parents aren’t supposed to send their child to school, like so many of you did today, thinking that they may never come home.”
“To honor her legacy, lift yourselves up,” he said. “Aspire for greatness. Live for Alyssa. Be her voice.”
The day before the gunman’s attack, Alyssa, a skilled soccer player who always tried to perform better than expected, impressed her coach when she soared over a defender during a game and knocked the ball out of the air with her head.
She was a member of the Parkland Travel Soccer team, and told a friend she dreamed of going to college and becoming a doctor.
Following the hour-long service, Alhadeff was buried in the Garden of Aaron at Star of David Memorial Gardens. Family members wept as they took turns shoveling dirt into the grave.
The funeral of Meadow Pollack, an 18-year-old senior at the school, was scheduled to be held Friday afternoon at the chapel, and another funeral, for 14-year-old Jaime Guttenberg, will be held there Sunday.
Herald Staff Writer Daniel Chang contributed to this report