A North Texas couple is mourning the loss of a relative they lost in the deadly Florida high school shooting. They just returned from the funeral they never thought they'd attend.
14-year-old Alex Schacter was one of the 17 people killed in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting on Valentine's Day. He was the great-nephew of Dallas-based Dr. Ed Goodman and his wife, Rona.
The Goodmans recall watching coverage of the Parkland school shooting and then getting a call from Rona's sister. She revealed to them Stoneman Douglass was the school their great-nephews attended. 17-year-old Ryan Schachter was accounted for, but 14-year-old Alex was not.
“You could hardly breathe. I mean you hurt so much, one could hardly breathe,” Rona said. “I wish I had been there with my sister.”
Once the survivors were evacuated, police had the grim task of identifying the bodies of the 14 students and three adult victims. Many students didn't have IDs. It caused for hours of agony for Alex's father, Max, and the other parents.
“Max said they had assembled the parents of the unidentified missing children, and they were in there for hours,” Ed explained. “He said seven hours waiting to hear. I can't imagine what they were going through.”
The Goodmans arrived in parkland on Friday and were overwhelmed by shows of support from the community for the victims’ families. Before attending Alex's funeral on Sunday, they went to his home and saw his room.
“He was a very excellent musician — a trombonist. I was looking to see if he had his trombone there, but he had his music stand right next to his bed,” Ed said. “That was very touching. It was one of the hardest moments walking in there.”
“It’s kind of surreal to know that he was never going to be there. It was just a typical boys room,” Rona said. “He was just a sweet kid who loved to play basketball, loved his friends, loved to tease. And he had a smile that just lit up the room.”
More than 1,200 people attended Alex's funeral. His brother, Ryan, found the poem Alex wrote for a class assignment the week before he was killed.
“And so he read that poem ‘Life is like a rollercoaster’ at the funeral,” Rona recalled. “And it was far beyond his years.”
During a CNN town hall meeting, it was Alex's father, Max, who read his late son's poem. The poem will be used to honor the victims in the coming weeks.
In the meantime, Ed is concerned about PTSD which he says the young survivors will have to deal with on a mass scale.
Alex’s mother died of a heart condition when he was 4 years old. The Goodmans say Alex and his mom were buried side by side.