Few people, if any, will forget February 14, 2018, the day 17 people were murdered at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. The students, teachers, and staff that survived will be struggling with guilt for years to come, but there is one survivor in particular who tells a chilling story that will, undoubtedly, haunt her for the rest of her life. Aalayah Eastmond had to make a horrifying decision to live. As the shooter began shooting into her classroom and shot one of her fellow students, Eastmond had only seconds to realize she needed to look like she was dead. As the bullets flew past her face, one of her classmates was shot, and he fell over. She followed his move, falling over with him. Then she pulled the teen’s body on top of herself to hide from the shooter.
It’s a moment Eastmond will never forget, and she has been struggling with survivor’s guilt ever since. She was scared of facing the parents of the student she used to hide behind because she thought there were going to be angry with her. But the teen’s parents were glad that Eastmond had survived and embraced the girl.
Eastmond called her mother, Stacey-Ann Llewellyn, during the shooting, apologizing for everything she’d ever done wrong and telling her mother she loved her. Llewellyn ended the call because she didn’t want the last sound she heard to be her daughter getting shot. Having survived the tragedy in which two students in her class were killed, Eastmond “isn’t interested in being a victim. She wants to use this to fuel change,” according to Mark Eiglarsh, an attorney who represents the Eastmonds. And the first change Eastmond is hoping to see is the open concept plan which her school has.
“Stoneman Douglass isn’t built for things like this. It’s built for our comfort. Certain places, no matter where, in things like this – you are going to get killed.”
Just days after the shooting, the Broward County School District, at the request of parents, students, community members, and elected officials, proposed demolishing the school and erecting memorial sites for those killed in the shooting. Broward Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie indicated he had plans to talk to legislative leaders about funding for a new school, but as the school houses 3,000 students, any new plan will take some time.