PARKLAND, Fla. – Ashlee Betts understands a lot of the emotions some of the students and teachers from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School are feeling about a week after the shooting that left 17 dead.
When Ashlee was only 12 years old, she was shot by a school shooter. On March 24, 1998, 13-year-old Mitchell Johnson and 11-year-old Andrew Golden ambushed Westside Middle School students, killing four children and one teacher. Ten people, including Betts, were wounded by the gunfire.
Over the last 20 years, all 10 of the Westside survivors have stayed in contact, offering support to other school shooting survivors. They’ve helped survivors in Columbine and Virginia Tech and now, Stoneman Douglas.
“It’s very important for survivors to speak to survivors,” said Betts.
Out of respect and privacy, Betts didn’t want to go into details on which victims she met with while she was in South Florida.
She did stress that she and other Westside survivors are collecting 3500 journals with the intention to give a journal to each of the 3500 students at Stoneman Douglas. It was something that the Westside survivors received when they were coping.
As Local 10 spoke to Betts at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, getting ready to head back home, she made it clear that she will be here for the survivors if they want to talk.
“The rollercoaster ride can’t be stopped, but basically, there are other people there if you want to talk,” added Betts.
Betts left her contact information at Stoneman Douglas High School, but if anyone needs to talk, or wants to help with the Westside survivors journal drive, you can e-mail her at email@example.com