Last night I attended a meeting that was held in support of the Alhadeff Family. Up until a few years ago, Alyssa Alhadeff lived in my town, and attended school with my youngest daughter.  On February 14, 2018, Alyssa was murdered in her English class at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL.   Many who live in our community–whether they knew Alyssa directly or not–were devastated to hear of her death, and are now mobilizing to try and put a stop to these senseless killings once and for all.

There were several speakers at the meeting last night, including Lori Alhadeff, Alyssa’s mother. She joined us from her home in Florida via video conference, and her anguished recounting of her ordeal was haunting and gut-wrenching. She talked about dropping her beautiful teenager off at school, exchanging “I love yous”, and then getting word just a few hours later that there was a shooting at the school.  She spoke of the terrifying hours that followed, her desperation and frustration, trying to get to Alyssa, to find out what happened to her, and if she was alive or dead. In her heart, she knew that her daughter was shot, even though no one could tell her for sure at that point.

Alyssa Alhadeff

It wasn’t until the next day that she finally had confirmation that her daughter was killed, when the FBI showed her a picture of Alyssa from the morgue.  She had been shot so many times, including one bullet that ripped into her femoral artery, and never stood a chance to survive.  There were 130 people in the room last night listening to Lori tell her story, and even more people overflowing out into the hallway, and every single one of us was in tears.

But from that intense grief and sadness, springs hope. Everyone who attended last night–braving a stormy Nor’easter–expressed their determination to get actively involved in effecting change.  We cannot sit by and allow this type of violence to invade our schools and terrorize our children.  Enough.

Lori Alhadeff is–and always will be–a grieving mom, but this tragedy has also transformed her into something else: a strong and focused advocate for safer schools. I have been in contact with the Alhadeff family over the past week, and there are some developments that will be announced soon.   When appropriate, I will share them with you, and ask that you join this brave woman in her quest to ensure that no other parent has to endure what she is now going through.

— Lisa Yakomin, Executive Director

Keep NJ Safe

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