Father of Parkland victim speaks out about Texas shooting

Published: May 25, 2022 5:00 AM EDT
Updated: June 7, 2022 11:18 AM EDT
People react outside the Civic Center following a deadly school shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas Tuesday, May 24, 2022. (AP Photo/Dario Lopez-Mills)

Four years ago, Manuel Oliver’s 17-year-old son Joaquin was among the 14 students and three staff members killed in a mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. On Tuesday, he watched as another mass shooting unfolded, this time at an elementary school in Texas.

As of Tuesday night, 19 children and two adults were killed. Officials said an 18-year-old gunman, believed to have been acting alone, had entered into the elementary school and opened fire at around 11:30 a.m. For Oliver, it brought back horrific memories — and anger that nothing has changed.

“My son Joaquin, my beautiful son Joaquin, my innocent son Joaquin, was shot four times with an AR-15,” Oliver told CBS News’ Lana Zak. “And today, we saw an 18-year-old in Texas was able to carry a weapon and kill kids inside their school.”

Oliver said he feels “very angry.” He, along with numerous other parents of Parkland victims and survivors, have been working for years to address gun violence in the U.S.

“We’ve been fighting against this. We were trying to prevent this. We knew that it was going to happen, we just don’t know where,” he said.

“‘We believe that more guns are the solution’ — you will hear these politicians sending their thoughts and prayers and some of them will say, ‘Our hearts are with the families,'” Oliver said. “Well, guess what? The families don’t need your freaking hearts. They need their kids. And their kids are not there anymore.”

Oliver directly addressed the families in Uvalde who lost loved ones in Tuesday’s mass shooting: “I know the pain. Terrible. Your whole life at this moment makes no sense. But you have only a small segment of time with the cameras in front of you. They won’t be there forever. They will move on,” he said. “… While you have those cameras in front of you, while you have the access to demand to show your anger, your sadness … please do it, because the media will not be there forever.”

Oliver said he doesn’t understand how society has not woken up to the reality of the situation. When asked if he feels like people have “become deaf to those pleas” for gun reform, Oliver replied, “It’s worse than that. It’s about money. It’s about interests. It’s about power.”

He blamed Congress for doing nothing as the violence continues.

“This requires a whole nation shifting a culture that is killing Americans. We are killing each other. We are protecting people from war in other nations, and we have our own war here.”

Since the day his son was killed, Oliver said, there have been more than 250,000 additional victims of gun violence in the U.S. In 2020, 45,222 Americans — more than any other year on record — died from gun-related injuries, according to Pew Research. That same year, nearly 80% of all murders committed in the U.S. involved a gun.

Tuesday’s attack also comes one day after the FBI reported a more than 52% increase in “active shooter” incidents from 2020 to 2021.

According to Education Week, there have been 27 school shootings in the U.S. in the first five months of 2022, with dozens killed or wounded.