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Parkland father urges officials to hold threatening students accountable, criticizes mental health system

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The father of a Parkland shooting victim after the Uvalde school massacre said threatening students need to be held accountable and criticized failures within the mental health care system.

“Crimes need to be dealt with,” Andrew Pollack, who became a school safety advocate after his daughter was killed, told Fox News. “And when they’re not dealt with, when these kids get older, they just commit more crime, more felonies.”

“If they’re not held accountable at a young age, it’s just going to get worse,” he said. “There’s not going to be one gun law that’s going to work if you don’t arrest criminals for making threats.”

Salvador Ramos killed 19 children and two teachers at a Uvalde, Texas, elementary school before being fatally shot by a Border Patrol agent on Tuesday, according to authorities. Nikolas Cruz pleaded guilty in October to killing 14 students, including Pollack’s daughter, Meadow, and three adults at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, in 2018.

Meadow Pollack was among the 17 killed when gunman Nikolas Cruz opened fire in Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Valentine's Day.

Meadow Pollack was among the 17 killed when gunman Nikolas Cruz opened fire in Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Valentine’s Day.
(Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

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“These parents in Texas, my heart is broken for them,” Pollack told Fox News. “It hurts me knowing that there’s going to be parents in the same boat as I am, and other families joined this miserable club that I’m in.”

“We’re going to find out that this was probably avoidable, like most mass shootings that happen in this country,” he said.

Many districts are not “arresting or holding these children accountable for making threats or breaking the law,” Pollack added. “People need consequences in life to keep them in line.”

Debate over additional gun control increased following the Uvalde shooting. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott pointed out during a press conference that 18-year-olds have been allowed to purchase long guns like the one Ramos used for upwards of 60 years. Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke, a Democrat seeking to unseat Abbott, interrupted the event and accused the Republican of doing nothing to prevent the next shooting.

A woman cries as she leave the Uvalde Civic Center following a shooting earlier in the day at Robb Elementary School, Tuesday, May 24, 2022, in Uvalde, Texas.

A woman cries as she leave the Uvalde Civic Center following a shooting earlier in the day at Robb Elementary School, Tuesday, May 24, 2022, in Uvalde, Texas.
(William Luther/The San Antonio Express-News via AP)

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“There’s not going to be one gun law that’s going to work if you don’t arrest criminals for making threats,” Pollack told Fox News.

“Don’t focus on the Second Amendment in D.C.,” he continued. “Focus on what could be done right now, today.”

Pollack also said failures within the mental health care system have enabled school shootings. He said many shooters over the past few decades have received mental health care, but didn’t have anything added to their background that would prevent them from purchasing a rifle.

“The mental health care in this country is failing us,” Pollack told Fox News.

Ramos had no known criminal background or mental health issues and bought his rifle legally, according to Abbott. Cruz similarly purchased his weapon legally after passing a background check, which included a mental health question, even though he was being treated just over a year before the Parkland shooting, according to authorities.

Payton Gendron, who’s accused of killing 10 in a Buffalo grocery store earlier in May, bought his guns legally, according to officials. Police had detained him a year earlier for making a general threat, but was released a day and a half after receiving a mental health evaluation, authorities said.

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Andrew Pollack, the father of a Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting victim, honors his daughter, Meadow, by advocating for school safety across America

Andrew Pollack, the father of a Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting victim, honors his daughter, Meadow, by advocating for school safety across America

“They’ll get asked some questions. They’ll say, I didn’t mean it, or they’re not acting erratic at that time,” Pollack told Fox News. “And they’re released back into society with all beautiful children and family members where they’re able to be able to go purchase a rifle because nothing is on their background.”

2022 has seen 27 school shootings that included injuries or deaths, according to Education Week.

“If you’re a parent and you have a child, then it’s your responsibility,” Pollack told Fox News. “Don’t look to the politicians in D.C. You have local politicians.”

“You could make a difference where you live, locally, with your school board,” he added. “That’s what you need to get involved with, where you can make a difference.”

He said local officials should focus on how to keep their schools safe within the current laws.

“You need a single point of entry and an armed guard at the school,” Pollack said. “Whether you’re a Democrat or Republican, you want your kids safe, and those things, that’s what you need.”

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He pointed out that “U.S. courthouses, airports,” and “sporting events have people there to protect” them. “Why not protect our children?”

“My daughter was my princess,” Pollack told Fox News. “She was inspiring to go to law school.” 

“Now I got to live with just looking at pictures and memories, videos and pictures because the school couldn’t take security after Sandy Hook,” he said. 

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