Mourners have gathered for the funeral services of a beloved geography teacher and two 14-year-old students who were killed in the Florida school shooting.
Teacher Scott Beigel, 35, was laid to rest in Boca Raton, Florida on Sunday, while services for students Alex Schachter and Jaime Guttenberg were held in a Fort Lauderdale convention center to accommodate thousands of mourners.
They were among the 17 killed in the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland on Wednesday. Former student Nikolas Cruz, 19, has been arrested and charged with the murders.
Beigel helped students enter a locked classroom to avoid the gunman, and paid for the brave act with his life.
At a synagogue in Boca Raton, pallbearers solemnly carried Beigel’s casket, and the Long Island native’s fiancée Gwen Gossler, 32, eulogized him through her tears.
Pallbearers carry the casket of Scott Beigel, geography teacher from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, after a funeral service at Temple Beth-El on Sunday in Boca Raton, Florida
Beigel’s family escort his casket to the mausoleum after the service at Temple Beth El on Sunday
Isabella Vanderlaat, 15, and Gabriella Benzeken, 15, both students of Beigel attend his funeral service on Sunday
Isabella and Gabriella struggled to compose themselves at Beigel’s funeral as friends and family honored the hero teacher
A mourner leaves the funeral for Scott Beigel on Sunday. His fiancée revealed that he’d discussed school shootings with her in the past and told her he never wanted to be eulogized as a hero
Mourners follow the casket of Scott Beigel for burial after his funeral in Boca Raton on Sunday
Beigel (left and right) helped students enter a locked classroom to avoid the gunman, and paid for the brave act with his life
She revealed that once, as they watched news coverage of another school shooting, he’d given instructions for his eulogy.
‘Promise me if this ever happens to me, you will tell them the truth — tell them what a jerk I am, don’t talk about the hero stuff,’ Gossler recalled his words, the New York Post reported.
‘OK, Scott, I did what you asked,’ the tearful woman continued. ‘Now I can tell the truth. You are an amazingly special person. You are my first love and my soulmate.’
Beigel met Gossler about seven years ago at Camp Starlight in Pennsylvania, where they both worked as camp counselors.
Meanwhile, the funeral of 14-year-old Alex had to be moved from Star of David Memorial Gardens Cemetery and Funeral Chapel to a Marriott convention center.
‘Thousands crammed into the venue, which needed to be moved from the funeral home to accommodate the droves of mourners who attended,’ wrote Rabbi Adam Watstein in a Facebook post shortly after Alex’s service.
The funeral of 14-year-old Alex (left and right) had to be moved from Star of David Memorial Gardens Cemetery and Funeral Chapel to a Marriott convention center to accommodate the thousands of mourners
Mourners arrive at the Fort Lauderdale Marriott Coral Springs at Heron Bay on Sunday for the funeral service of Alex Schachter, 14, who was one of the 17 victims of the Parkland mass shooting
Mourners arrive at Alex’s funeral service. His older brother eulogized him, reading a poem Alex himself had written
The hearse carrying the remains of Alex Schachter leaves the funeral service at the Fort Lauderdale Marriott Coral Springs
‘I have no words to appropriately describe the depth of despair that enveloped that space…but perhaps that is the point,’ the rabbi wrote.
Alex’s older brother, who escaped the shooting, spoke at the funeral and admitted he was unable to find the words to appropriately honor the little brother who looked up to him, according to Watstein.
Instead, he read a poem that Alex himself had written, comparing his life to a rollercoaster.
‘I cannot do it justice, but in short he admitted in his poem that life is full of twists and turns, that it is sometimes scary and daunting, that we get on the ride knowing it will end eventually, but not knowing exactly when….and that throughout the rollercoaster of life, all that keeps us feeling safe is the security bar over our lap,’ wrote Watstein.
‘That security bar, for Alex, was family and community….so long as it’s there, he wrote, the rollercoaster of life will be a joyous ride.’
Jaime Guttenberg was also memorialized in a funeral service
Mourners arrive at the Fort Lauderdale Marriott Coral Springs at Heron Bay for the funeral service of Jaime Guttenberg
Mourners arrive for the funeral service of Jaime Guttenberg, 14, who was one of the 17 victims of the Parkland mass shooting
Like Alex, Jaime’s service was held later in the day Sunday at the Fort Lauderdale Marriott Coral Springs.
Jaime, 14, has been described by relatives as a ‘kind-hearted, sweet’ girl. She attended the school with her younger brother who survived and rushed home afterwards.
‘I heard them all crying and I tried not to do it, but it was really sad,’ said Simcha Levy, who attended the funeral, in an interview with the Associated Press.
‘That could be you, she’s really close to my age,’ Levy said.
Over 1000 people joined together to recite the Mourner’s Kaddish, a Jewish prayer for the deceased, at Jaime’s funeral, attorney Jeff Adelman said on Facebook after the funeral.
Friends and well-wishers pay their respects on Sunday at a memorial for the victims of the shooting
Community members console one another at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Sunday four days after the shooting
Florida Governor Rick Scott speaks to the congregation at First United Methodist Church during a Sunday prayer service