VOORHEES, N.J. – Any school shooting hits the American public hard, but the latest one in Florida struck a personal chord with the Flyers’ Shayne Gostisbehere.
The young defenseman, a native of Pembroke Pines, Fla., spent two years at Parkland’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, the scene of Wednesday’s massacre which left 17 people dead.
“It’s obviously a tragic event,’’ Gostisbehere said after Thursday’s practice at the Skate Zone. “It’s your high school you went to. Things keep happening. . .it just sucks.’’
Gostisbehere transferred from Stoneman Douglas to South Kent School in Connecticut after his sophomore year to further his hockey career but he still has a lot of memories from his days at the Florida school.
He learned the news from a friend.
“A buddy texted me,’’ Gostisbehere explained. “My girlfriend and I turned on whatever news station there was at the time. It sucks to see – those were the hallways you walked a time before. A tragic day.’’
It truly is an unspeakable horror.
“They always say, ‘it’s close to home. . .’ but when it’s actually home, it’s pretty tough to see,’’ Gostisbehere said.
“I haven’t really processed it yet, I still can’t believe it. I mean, I was just in that school; it was only for two years but I felt safe at that school everyday. Just to see something like that happen. Those kids, those teachers and what not, it sucks.’’
Gostisbehere said he knew of assistant football coach Aaron Feis, considered a hero for sacrificing his life to shield students from the gunman’s bullets.
“He was always a great guy,’’ Gostisbehere recalled. “Always nice to me when I was there. Obviously it really shows his character, what he did, in that time of panic and emergency, putting himself on the line for others
“He’s a true hero. He’s the guy we need to focus on and not the suspect.’’
Coach Dave Hakstol summed up what a lot of people must have been thinking in the Flyers’ locker room on Thursday.
“It’s an awful thing,’’ Hakstol said. “The amount of times it’s been repeated. The number of people that have been affected. You feel really terrible for the families and everyone involved.
“But there’s nothing that I can say that’s going to do it justice in any way.’’
Gostisbehere says he still has family in the area. In fact, his grandparents live just a mile away from the affected high school.
“I (his family) live just 10 minutes away,’’ he said. “It’s a tough time. It was just voted the safest city in Florida last year.
“To see a tragic event like that, it’s obviously some shock right now.’’