IOWA CITY — One of the students was a caring sister, one had a birthday party planned for this weekend and another always was posting photos of her cat online.
The eight students and two teachers shot to death Friday at Santa Fe High School in Texas were, in many ways, similar to the students Nick Pryor, 18, said he sees every day in the halls of West High in Iowa City.
“For all of them, ‘never again’ came too soon,” Pryor said at a candlelight vigil Monday evening outside City High. “All of us here, since the movement began, have felt that we have to continue to fight on, fight for the kids of Parkland, or now the kids of Santa Fe. … But we can’t forget the victims and the victims’ families, and when we say never again to gun violence, this time we absolutely have to mean never again to gun violence.”
About 35 people joined in the vigil, which was organized by students in Iowa City who formed the activist group Students Against School Shootings in wake of the February high school shooting in Parkland, Fla., that killed 17.
On Friday morning, another shooter targeted another school. A 17-year-old student, with a shotgun and pistol, opened fire in an art class in Santa Fe High School near Houston.
He killed 10 people and wounded at least 10 others, police said, before surrendering. He is being held without bail and has been charged with capital murder and aggravated assault on a peace officer.
Officials have identified the dead as teachers Glenda Perkins and Cynthia Tisdale, and students Jared Black, Shana Fisher, Christian Riley Garcia, Aaron Kyle McLeod, Angelique Ramirez, Sabika Sheikh, Christopher Jake Stone and Kimberly Vaughan.
Students at the vigil said they learned of the shooting while cramming for precalculus finals, in the midst of video production class or just before taking high-stakes tests.
“I heard in the math hallway,” said City High student Theo Prineas, 18. “It was really shocking, especially because I was going in to take a test. I probably didn’t do too well. It would be nice to focus on our tests rather than on this.”
Students and community members at the Iowa City vigil also remembered the woman killed in a shooting outside a high school graduation ceremony Friday in Jonesboro, Ga. Her name has not yet been released, according to the Associated Press.
Since the Valentine’s Day mass murder at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, the student group in Iowa has organized walkouts, voter registration efforts and lobbying events to raise awareness of gun violence.
“To see these things still happening is a little disheartening, I won’t lie,” Mira Bohannan Kumar, 15, said.
But the group is pushing on, members said, and has placed an emphasis on voter registration for students old enough to cast ballots.
“SASS is working hard to get change,” said City High student Olivia Lusala, 16. “But people need to realize prayers to the victims doesn’t equal giving a damn.”
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The Washington Post contributed to this report.