Friends and colleagues of the Jewish victims of Thursday’s school shooting in Florida have been paying their respects on social media.
A list of the 17 victims has been released, including four Jewish students and one teacher: Alex Schachter, 14, Meadow Pollack, 18, Jaime Guttenberg, 14, Alyssa Alhadeff, 14 and teacher Scott Beigel.
According to reports, Stoneman Douglas High School is 40% Jewish.
“It’s chaos here and devastation,” Rabbi Jonathan Kaplan of the local Temple Beth Chai told JTA on Wednesday on his way to console bereaved parents in his congregation.
“Everyone is just waiting and praying. No words can describe what happened here.”
Rabbi Mendy Gutnick of the Chabad of Parkland is planning funerals for all five Jewish victims.
He told the Sun Sentinel: “I haven’t heard any screaming or yelling, just a frozen numbness. There isn’t one child who doesn’t feel at least one or two degrees of separation from the victims. This was Parkland’s 9/11.”
Jaime Guttenberg’s father, Fred Guttenberg, wrote of his loss on Facebook: “My heart is broken. Yesterday, Jennifer Bloom Guttenberg and I lost our baby girl to a violent shooting at her school. We lost our daughter and my son Jesse Guttenberg lost his sister. I am broken as I write this trying to figure out how my family gets through this.”
Jeb Niewood, president of The Friendship Initiative, where Jaime Guttenberg and her brother volunteered, remembered Guttenberg as “an amazing human being”.
“Jaime was quite an amazing human being,” he said.
“She had a maturity and compassion far beyond her years, she had an aura, a glow that radiated from her smile and her eyes, she was beautiful in every way.”
Another victim, Alyssa Alhadeff, has been described as “sweet” and “like an angel”. She was a student at Stoneman Douglas and a soccer player for Parkland Travel Soccer.
“She’s the sweetest,” Ms Alhadeff’s grandmother, Vicky Alhadeff, told Miami’s Channel 7 News.
“She’s a big soccer player, very smart, she’s in track. She’s very popular, a very beautiful girl. Oh my God, she’s my life. How could I not love her? She’s my granddaughter.”
Geography teacher Scott Beigel, 35, has been credited with saving the lives of his students, as he ushered them back into his classroom for safety when the shooting started. He was reported to have been shot as he shut the door to protect students from the gunman, believed to be expelled student Nikolas Cruz.
One of the students in his class, Kelsey Friend, described him a “hero” and said she would likely not be alive had Mr Beigel not opened the door for her.
“We all heard gunshots, and he unlocked the door and let us in. I had thought he was behind me, but he wasn’t,” Ms Friend told ABC News.
“When he opened the door, he had to relock it so we can stay safe, but he didn’t get the chance to [stay safe].”
“Please say a prayer for the family of an amazing girl I got to call my best friend growing up,” read another Facebook tribute to 18 year-old Meadow Pollack, who was planning on starting at Lynn University in Boca Raton later this year.
The post continued: “Her life was taken way too soon and I have no words to describe how this feels. Rest In Peace my beautiful angel… you are and forever will be loved.”