Portraits of the Douglas school shooting victims
She was a soccer player, a daughter, a sister, a friend.
Alyssa Alhadeff, 14, was one of the youngest of the 17 killed Wednesday in the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High. Her funeral service was held Friday at the Star of David Funeral Chapel in North Lauderdale with hundreds in attendance.
“I wish I could’ve taken those bullets for you, Alyssa,” Alyssa's mother, Lori Alhadeff, said at the service. “I would have protected you.”
In the hours following the shooting, Alhadeff’s family grew worried that they could not get in touch with her, one of several victims who were considered missing at the time but later confirmed dead by police.
Her grandmother, Vicky Alhadeff, told the Sun Sentinel on Wednesday that Alyssa’s phone was tracked to the high school.
“Find her alive!” Alhadeff said, in anguish. “We know she’s missing. We can’t find her.”
During her funeral, Alyssa was described by family and friends as a comforting presence to everyone she met and as an overachieving, optimistic young girl. Once, her mother said, Alyssa balked at the idea of locking the door of their Parkland home.
“Nothing bad ever happens in Parkland,” Lori Alhadeff said.
Alyssa was a freshman at Stoneman Douglas and a member of the Parkland Travel Soccer team as an attacking midfielder. She played what wound up being her final game on Tuesday against Coral Springs United. Parkland won 1-0. She was also a member of the debate team, and was thinking about becoming a doctor one day.
“Alyssa Alhadeff was a loved and well-respected member of our club and community,” the travel soccer team wrote on its Facebook page. “Alyssa will be greatly missed. Our thoughts and prayers go out to her family and all the other victims of this tragic event.”
She attended Camp Coleman, a program of the Union for Reform Judaism that is held each summer camp in Cleveland, Georgia.
“On behalf of the entire Coleman community, we offer heartfelt condolences and prayers for comfort to Alyssa's family and friends,” the camp posted on its Facebook page. “May Alyssa's memory forever be for a blessing.”
Alyssa’s cousin, Ariella Del Quaglio, wrote on Facebook that she was at a loss for words when she found out the news.
“My heart is broken,” Del Quaglio wrote. “Not sure what I can even say.”
Family friend and neighbor Leon Fooksman told the Washington Post that the Alhadeffs moved to Parkland from New Jersey a few years ago.
“The whole move was about giving the kids a new life in sunny Florida,” Fooksman said. “And this is one of the safest cities in Florida. Many people would agree there is no better place to raise your kids.”
After President Donald Trump, in a nationally televised speech from the White House, promised to provide “whatever you need” to the victims of the shooting and their families, Lori Alhadeff pleaded for gun control and more safety at schools.
"The gunman, a crazy person, just walks right into the school, knocks down the window of my child's door and starts shooting, shooting her. And killing her," she said on CNN. "President Trump, you say what can you do? You can stop the guns from getting into these children's hands. Put metal detectors at every entrance to the schools. What can you do? You can do a lot. This is not fair to our families that our children go to school and have to get killed."
During her daughter’s funeral, Alhadeff encouraged all of Alyssa’s friends to jot down their fondest memories of her and to send them to the family. She told them to live for Alyssa going forward and to make something “beautiful” of their lives in honor of the slain teen.
“Honor Alyssa,” she said. “Be something fabulous in your life. Be her voice.”