'Is my school next?': Statehouse vigil remembers 21 victims of Texas school shooting

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People rally Saturday at the Ohio Statehouse during a vigil for the 19 students and two teachers killed at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.
People rally Saturday at the Ohio Statehouse during a vigil for the 19 students and two teachers killed at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.

About a hundred people gathered outside the Ohio Statehouse Saturday afternoon for a vigil to remember the 21 victims of this week's school shooting in Uvalde, Texas.

About a dozen speakers shared their frustration and fear and spoke about enacting common sense-gun laws. The vigil was organized by the Brady Campaign Against Gun Violence, Moms Demand Action and Team Enough.

“I am scared. … I don’t feel safe,” said Nina Greenberg, a member of Students Demand Action and a student at Sylvania Southview High School, near Toledo.

“When the dropping of a textbook during class makes me think of a gunshot, when unscheduled announcements come over the PA, I worry that we’re going into lockdown,” Greenberg said. “I see shootings all over the country and wonder, ‘Is my school next?’”

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On Tuesday, a gunman entered Robb Elementary School and killed 19 children and two teachers, just two days before summer break was to begin.

Nan Whaley, the Democratic candidate for Ohio governor, spoke at Saturday’s rally about how gun violence is personal to her. She was the mayor of Dayton when a shooter in the Oregon District killed nine people in under a minute Aug. 4, 2019.

Now, every time there is a mass shooting, she calls that city’s mayor to offer her support.

Former Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley speaks Saturday during a vigil for the 19 students and two teachers killed at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. Whaley, who is running for Ohio governor, criticized incumbent Gov. Mike DeWine's support for what she called lax gun restrictions.
Former Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley speaks Saturday during a vigil for the 19 students and two teachers killed at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. Whaley, who is running for Ohio governor, criticized incumbent Gov. Mike DeWine's support for what she called lax gun restrictions.

“I’m tired of having to call mayors to give them advice around a scene that should have never happened in the first place,” she said.

People called on Gov. Mike DeWine to “do something” in the days that followed the Dayton shooting. At the time, he unveiled a bill to expand so-called pink slip laws and increase penalties for certain gun crimes, among other provisions, but it never went anywhere.

Guns in Ohio: Three years after Dayton attack, Texas shooting fuels anger over Ohio inaction on guns

DeWine has also signed two bills condemned by Democrats and advocates for gun control: One that allows Ohioans to use deadly force in self-defense in public places without first trying to retreat, and another that eliminates training and background checks for concealed carry permits. The new law for permits takes effect in June.

“Never in my worst nightmare did I think that Mike DeWine would do something to make it worse,” Whaley said. “I’m running for governor because I’m tired of this bull----. We are the majority of the state. Nine out of 10 Ohioans believe in universal background checks.”

On Friday, DeWine laid out a plan to prevent school shootings in Ohio that focuses on increasing school security and identifying mental health issues in potential shooters.

“What we saw this week is just the most gut-wrenching, heartbreaking thing that I can imagine as a parent or grandparent or just as a human being,” DeWine said. “We’ve made great progress and have more to do. We have a moral obligation to do it.”

Dion Green speaks Saturday at the Ohio Statehouse during a vigil for the 19 students and two teachers killed at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. Green's father, Derrick Fudge, was killed during a mass shooting Aug. 3, 2019, in Dayton's Oregon District.
Dion Green speaks Saturday at the Ohio Statehouse during a vigil for the 19 students and two teachers killed at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. Green's father, Derrick Fudge, was killed during a mass shooting Aug. 3, 2019, in Dayton's Oregon District.

Dion Green, a survivor of the Dayton shooting, also spoke during Saturday's rally about what it was like for him to lose his father, Derrick Fudge, that day in Dayton.

“It all started with a perfect evening, just being out with my family, just enjoying the night,” Green said. “A person with an evil soul decided to take my dad’s life along with seven others.”

He said seeing mass shootings on TV is retraumatizing for him and other survivors of shootings. He goes to cities that have been through mass shootings to console the families and survivors.

Green plans to leave for Texas on Tuesday after recently returning from Buffalo, New York, where 10 Black people were killed in a supermarket on May 14.

“These kids … probably had a summer of vacation and swimming pools, just being a kid,” Green said. “Now, their families are planning funerals.”

Elizabeth Overmeir, the education lead for Brady Ohio, has been a teacher for more than 20 years and shared during Saturday’s rally how the past week has led to sleepless nights.

“The end of the school year is supposed to be a joyous occasion filled with award ceremonies, field days and thoughts of summer vacation," she said. "Now, the world watches horror as 21 families plan funerals.”

Titus Wu, of the USA TODAY Network Ohio Bureau, contributed to this report.

Megan Henry is a Columbus Dispatch K-12 education reporter. Reach her at mhenry@dispatch.com or (614) 559-1758. Follow her on Twitter @megankhenry. Sign up for her education newsletter here.

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This article originally appeared on The Columbus Dispatch: Ohioans remember Uvalde school shooting victims at Statehouse vigil