Four Jewish students and a teacher were confirmed Thursday to be among the 17 victims killed during a massacre at their high school the day before.
The dead included four students — Jamie Guttenberg, Alyssa Alhadeff, Alex Schachter, Meadow Pollack — and teacher Scott Beigel, heralded for putting himself in the line of fire to save others.
The five deaths were reported by family members, friends, and community members. Rabbi Mendy Guttenberg of Chabad of Parkland, who has been in touch with many of the families of those killed and injured, confirmed the five deaths to The Times of Israel.
A former student, identified as Nikolas Cruz, armed with an AR-15 rifle, opened fire at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Wednesday, killing at least 17 people, officials said, in a harrowing shooting spree that saw terrified students hiding in closets and under desks as they texted for help.
Broward County officials say they will release a full list of victims later Thursday.
Guttenberg’s father announced her death in a post to his Facebook page in which he wrote “My heart is broken. Yesterday, Jennifer Bloom Guttenberg and I lost our baby girl to a violent shooting at her school.
Jamie’s own Facebook page was changed to “Remembering.”
The death of Alhadeff, 15, was announced by her mother Lori, in a post to her Facebook page.
“My daughter Alyssa was killed today by a horrific act of violence,” Lori Alhadeff wrote.
The parents of Pollack, 18, said Thursday morning that their daughter too was a victim, the Palm Beach Post reported. The night before, her father Andrew had spoken to the press of his harrowing search for his daughter.
Congregation Beth Am, Longwood, Florida, in a post to its Facebook page, wrote that Alex Schachter was also killed in the shooting.
Beigel, a geography teacher, was also confirmed killed in media reports. Camp Starlight, a Jewish camp where he had worked, called him a “beloved friend and a hero.”
Students said Beigel tried to lock the door to the classroom where students were hiding to prevent the shooter from entering but was gunned down.
They were all members of the local Jewish community.
Rabbi Shuey Biston of Chabad of Parkland said rabbis have coordinated with Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel to ensure that the bodies of any Jewish victims be released for burial as soon as possible, in keeping with Jewish tradition.
According to the rabbis, several teens who were in the school and survived the shooting came to the Thursday morning prayers to recite a traditional blessing giving thanks for salvation from a life-threatening event.
Cruz was arrested without incident in the nearby town of Coral Springs after Valentine’s Day rampage, and taken to hospital with minor injuries, the sheriff said.