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Stoneman Douglas High School shooting survivor visits GVSU discussing gun violence and school safety

Samantha Fuentes portrait
Samantha Fuentes

A survivor of the 2018 shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School visited Grand Valley State University speaking about gun violence and school safety.

Samantha Fuentes recalls Valentine’s Day 2018 when 19-year old Nicholas Cruz shot and killed 17 of her Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School classmates using an AR-15 style rifle. She remembers scrambling for cover when Cruz sprayed her classroom with a shower of bullets. She was hit in the legs and still has shrapnel lodged behind her right eye.

“I think this experience has taught me that there are so many people who have the ability to hate but that doesn’t necessarily mean that you do.”

With her short, shocking electric blue dyed hair, Fuentes advocates for school safety and curbing gun violence.

“I think that’s what we often forget is how much we glorify weapons and the way that we talk about them and I fell like if we started talking about them as they are opposed to what they can be. You know, because people will say, ‘Well, they can protect people. They can protect schools. They can do (these things) but the truth is, at the end of the day, this is what they’re really doing. And sure, if we had soldiers on the front lines defending our country back in 18-whatever, that’s fine. But right now those guns that are supposed to protect people aren’t. So, that’s why we have to switch that rhetoric that surrounds guns.”

Fuentes has her concern about the glorification of guns in the media and admits she’s guilty of playing first person shooter games.

“Even that, like sure, that’s not going to influence me to go out and do something ridiculous but with enough pressure, enough video games, enough trafficking of guns, enough stockpiling, that will push anybody. And if we start changing the way that we handle guns and the way that we perceive them I think that would make a huge difference.”

Patrick Center, WGVU News.

Patrick joined WGVU Public Media in December, 2008 after eight years of investigative reporting at Grand Rapids' WOOD-TV8 and three years at WYTV News Channel 33 in Youngstown, Ohio. As News and Public Affairs Director, Patrick manages our daily radio news operation and public interest television programming. An award-winning reporter, Patrick has won multiple Michigan Associated Press Best Reporter/Anchor awards and is a three-time Academy of Television Arts & Sciences EMMY Award winner with 14 nominations.