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Sunday 24 June 2018

Student wounded in Florida school shooting aiming for full recovery

Maddy Wilford suffered gunshot injuries to her chest and abdomen during the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

Maddy Wilford, right and her mother Missy walk into a press conference at Broward Health North (AP)
Maddy Wilford, right and her mother Missy walk into a press conference at Broward Health North (AP)

By Terry Spencer

A student who suffered multiple gunshot wounds during a mass shooting at a Florida high school has thanked medics and first responders who saved her life.

Maddy Wilford, 17, who is making a full recovery, said: “It’s times like these when I know that we need to stick together.”

Ms Wilford has undergone three surgeries since the shooting on February 14 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland which left 17 people dead. She appeared at a hospital news conference with her parents and some of the doctors who helped her.

Broward Health North’s Dr Igor Nichiporenko said: “She’s very lucky, very, very lucky,” adding that she had survived despite large calibre bullets penetrating her chest and abdomen.

Flanked by her mother and father, Ms Wilford said: “I’m just glad that I’m making a full recovery and everything is going smoothly.”

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Maddy Wilford and her father take part in a press conference (AP)

The school, which has a roll of 3,200 students, will reopen on Wednesday.

The news conference came as President Donald Trump told America’s governors that he would have run into the school shooting scenario “even if I didn’t have a weapon”.

Mr Trump is again finding fault with officers who did not stop the gunman in the Parkland massacre, saying that deputies at the school “weren’t exactly Medal of Honour winners”.

He told 39 of the nation’s governors: “I really believe I’d run in there even if I didn’t have a weapon.”

The president is vowing to turn the nation’s “grief into action” following the shooting, saying that “while our nation is heartbroken”, the US needs “to have action” on measures related to school safety and gun violence.

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Pulse survivor India Godman, left, hugs Wendy Garrity at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida (AP)

Meanwhile, Florida governor Rick Scott has asked Florida Law Enforcement Commissioner Rick Swearingen to investigate the law enforcement response to the shooting.

Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel has faced criticism after the revelation last week that deputy Scot Peterson, the school’s assigned security officer, was nearby when the shooting began, but did not go into the building to confront the suspect during the attack.

The sheriff’s office is also facing a backlash for apparently mishandling some of the 18 tip-offs related to the suspected shooter, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz. The tips were among a series of what authorities now describe as clear warning signs that Cruz, who had a history of disturbing behaviour, posed a serious threat.

Sheriff Israel defended his leadership and said investigators are looking into claims that three other deputies were on the scene but failed to enter the school when the chance to save lives still existed. To date, the investigation has pointed to only one deputy being on school grounds while the killer was present.

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A man signs a banner in tribute to the victims of the mass shooting (AP)

Sheriff Israel labelled as “absolutely untrue” reports that the deputies waited outside, even though children were inside the building needing urgent medical treatment.

The FBI has acknowledged that it failed to investigate the tip about Cruz received on January 5.

Earlier, actress and TV star Oprah Winfrey praised survivors of the massacre who have channelled anger and grief into activism, calling them “warriors of the light” and comparing them to civil rights pioneers.

Press Association

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