Students around the country, including at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, walked off their campuses Friday in solidarity with the 13 victims of the deadly 1999 Columbine High School shooting as part of the newly energized movement to stop school shootings.
Almost simultaneously, a student at an Ocala, Florida, high school was shot in the ankle by a 19-year-old who dropped the weapon and ran, according to The Associated Press.
Sixty Stoneman Douglas students traveled to Littleton, Colorado, for a memorial event Thursday on the eve of the 19th anniversary of the shooting, and dozens walked off campus in Parkland on Friday.
"We just want to show that we care for them as they care for us," said 18-year-old senior Ryan Deitsch. "They've been a great help as we transition to a community affected by gun violence."
Deitsch, clutching a bright orange cutout of the word 'love' in cursive, led the stream of dozens of students from their campus down the street to a nearby park, where they signed a banner to send to Columbine students. The banner read, "Never Again," the slogan of the anti-gun violence movement sparked after a gunman killed 17 students and staffers at the school in February, interspersed with glittery red footprints.
"We stand with you #MSDStrong #ColumbineStrong," one student wrote. "For the 17 + 13." She signed her name with a heart.
Some critics, particularly those in the comments of the Periscope that Parkland activist and student David Hogg streamed on Twitter, asked why the students were protesting an event that happened before any of them were born.
"I think the fact that it happened 19 years ago, and it was expected to be the last thing to ever happen, then we had things like Sandy Hook, Pulse, San Bernardino, is a testament to why we have to walk out. This is a generational thing now," said Hogg, who was born two years after the Columbine shooting. "These things have continued to happen, and they haven't done a thing about it."
Stoneman Douglas was one of about a dozen South Florida schools that signed up to participate in the National School Walkout.
Around 40 students left campus at 10 a.m. Friday, after a moment of silence held in the courtyard for the 13 victims of the mass shooting. Those who chose to leave weren't allowed to return to campus.
"Our principal said if we walked out, we would get an unexcused absence and further punishment," said Angelina Lazo, an 18-year-old senior who didn't go to school but showed up for the memorial. "I didn't want to get in trouble."
Lazo showed up outside her campus toting a poster supporting her fellow students because rallies likely add to the momentum of the movement against gun violence. She said the walkouts aren't politicized, as her school district referred to them in a statement Thursday, but are instead a plea for solutions to the problem that "happens everywhere."
"I think the schools where the mass shootings happened should be first to walk out," she said.