PLANTATION, Fla. - Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School survivor Anthony Borges wore one of his favorite Barcelona training soccer jerseys to a news conference Friday. The Futbol Club Barcelona's invitation to visit them in Spain was still pending.
The 15-year-old survivor was credited with saving 20 lives when he used his body to barricade a classroom door. He sat silently in a wheelchair, as his family's attorney, Alex Arreaza, and his father, Roger Borges, talked to reporters in both English and Spanish in Plantation.
Anthony's father "doesn't want there to be any more bubblegum hero stuff," Arreaza said adding that Anthony also didn't feel comfortable with the comparisons to Iron Man, a Marvel Comics character.
Anthony was shot five times suffering wounds to the lungs, abdomen and legs. Arreaza said that although he was released from the hospital Wednesday, his right leg was still in pretty bad shape and he was also adjusting to a new reality: The gunman also killed his dreams of playing soccer professionally.
Arreaza read a letter that he said Anthony wrote saying both Broward County Public Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie and Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel had failed MSD students, teachers and parents.
"I want all of us to move forward to end the environment that allowed people like Nikolas Cruz to fall through the cracks," the letter said. "You knew he was a problem years ago and you did nothing. He should have never been in school with us."
The Borges family also criticized both the Broward Sheriff's Office and Broward County Public Schools for decisions made before and after the Valentine's Day massacre that left 17 dead and 16 others injured and for their lack of sensitivity and transparency.
"I am not grateful for the picture that Israel took of my son in that condition, in any way, and I think it was a mockery to have sent me a $100 check from the school board," Roger Borges said in Spanish. "I think it showed a great lack of respect."
Anthony's friend MSD survivor Carlos "Carlitos" Rodriguez, who like Roger Borges is also from Venezuela, was at the news conference. He said he was upset that Broward Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer had not allowed Anthony or his father to testify in court.
Cruz, who was a former MSD student the day of the shooting, was formally charged on 17 counts of first-degree murder Wednesday. Carlos said he also fears that if Scherer didn't value Anthony's voice then authorities are not going to value any of the other students' voices.
"All of us are facing PTSD, all of us are talking to therapist, all of us are experiencing things that no student should ever feel," Carlos said. "There is pain in our hearts. We have been scarred for the rest of our lives."
Carlos and Anthony feel the pain of the family of Joaquin Oliver, a Venezuelan who had just become a U.S. citizen last year, and was among the 17 dead. Although they are hopeful about the Never Again movement, Anthony's family fears it won't be enough to prevent another tragedy.
"While they appreciate and applaud the efforts in Washington, D.C., Venezuela is a place where they have gorgeous marches with millions of people and nothing gets done," Arreaza said, adding that Roger Borges "has decided he is going to put his faith in the American justice system."
Arreaza said they plan on filing lawsuits against the estate of Cruz's late mother. Florida law prevents the victims from filing lawsuits against the Broward Sheriff's Office and Broward County Public Schools until August, six months after the tragedy.
Watch the news conference
(English and Spanish)
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