Florida school shooting suspect Nikolas Cruz was brought to the Broward County jail and charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder Thursday morning. (Feb. 15)
MESA, Ariz. – The shooting at a Florida high school that killed 17 students and staff members reverberated through Major League Baseball’s community Thursday, as Chicago Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo returned home to Parkland, Fla. to lend support to his community and reaction trickled in from other spring training camps.
Rizzo, 28, graduated from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in 2007 and is now a three-time All-Star with the Chicago Cubs. Wednesday, he tweeted support for his community and noted that “our country is in desperate need of change” after another mass shooting.
According to the Cubs, Rizzo has left camp in Mesa, Ariz., to return to Florida. Rizzo played football for two years at Stoneman Douglas. The Chicago Sun-Times reported that Rizzo knew assistant coach Aaron Feis, who was killed in the shooting.
With South Florida home to a score of major leaguers, the shooting touched a score of players just now reporting for training camps.
“My parents called me immediately and they’re like, ‘Hey, there’s a shooting at this school in Broward (County),'” Cubs center fielder Albert Almora said Thursday mornign. “I go, ‘Which school is it?’ They told me Douglas and I’m, ‘Oh, my God, that’s where Rizz went.’ I had played there. I personally don’t know anybody there, but still, it’s part of the south Florida family.
“It’s super unfortunate. Not having a son yourself and putting yourself in parents’ situation right now, it’s miserable.’’
Rizzo and Almora met at Douglas a couple of times this winter to hit, Almora said. Noting that it feels like shootings happen everywhere these days, Almora – who attended Mater Academy in Hialeah – echoed Rizzo’s call to action.
“There’s got to be something done,” he said. “I don’t know what that is. It’s not my place to say because I have no idea what they have to do, but something’s got to be done. I saw something that there’s been 18 mass shootings in the first two months of this year. That can’t happen.
“I don’t care what you believe in, what political beliefs you have, that just can’t happen. There’s a lot of innocent lives taken for no (good) reason.’’
Parkland is less than an hour from several spring training sites on Florida’s east coast. Miami Marlins manager Don Mattingly, in sending “heartfelt condolences” to the victims, said, per the Miami Herald: “I don’t know the solution. But there’s got to be a way to make it better.”
Houston Astros manager A.J. Hinch said from the team’s West Palm Beach facility that he was “immediately drawn to the parents of the kids and the teachers and the parents of anybody involved down there.
“We don’t need a reminder, but we get it often that the conversation’s still alive. It doesn’t matter whether it’s in concerts and schools. In communities all over the country, we have to continue to educate on a lot of topics. And reminded, painfully, that we’re never going to conquer it but always have to continue to do it.
“As a parent of two teenagers, in the offseason I get the chance to take my kids to school. I think we all take for granted that when you drop them off at school, you’ll get a chance to pick them up.”