On Friday, Parkland survivor and Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School senior Aalayah Eastmond testified against Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination with a riveting and chilling account of her experience during the traumatic February shooting.
“If the youth across the country can fight to eradicate gun violence,” @AalayahEastmond, a senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, tells @senjudiciary, “why can’t judges, lawmakers and Donald Trump understand that young people are dying from this senseless gun violence?” pic.twitter.com/f0RDadKJku – PBS NewsHour (@NewsHour) September 7, 2018
According to BuzzFeed News, Eastmond was sitting in her Holocaust history class watching her classmates give presentations when the gun shots first rang out. “We heard a round of extremely loud pops,” she recalled. “We had no idea what it was or where it was coming from. The class was in complete silence and we all stared at each other in immediate fear.”
Upon seeing “red on the floor,” Eastmond was first in disbelief. Among her peers was a boy named Nicholas Dworet, who was struck by the bullets and killed. “Little did I know, 79 minutes from then he’d be saving my life,” she said.
Shielding herself from bullets and hiding from the gunman, Eastmond prayed while placing herself “underneath his lifeless body.” “I began talking to God,” she said. “I told God that I knew I was going to die, I asked to please make it fast. I didn’t want to feel anything. I asked for the bullet to go through my head so I wouldn’t endure any pain.”
The wait was agonizing as Eastmond willed the shooter to go away. “I laid there for about 30 seconds, still protected by his lifeless body, waiting for the shooter to move on to the next class,” Eastmond said. “I will never forget what I saw, what I did, and what I experienced that day. I will never forget Nicholas Dworet who, even in death, helped protect and save my life.”
The 17-year-old activist spoke to BuzzFeed News about her “very overwhelming” speech and “hopes her testimony will allow Kavanaugh to look at gun reform from her perspective and from the perspective of “youth of color that experience gun violence every day.””
As Eastmond addressed the Senate Judiciary Committee, Senator Cory Booker was seen wiping away tears.
Viewers watching from home were also emotional about Eastmond’s powerful story, and expressed their admiration and sympathy on Twitter.
Ms. Aalayah Eastmond, a Marjory Stoneman Douglas HS shooting survivor, brought @CoryBooker to tears at Judge Kavanaugh’s SCOTUS HRG as she shared her testimony about the gun violence she experienced that day, and the ways gun violence disproportionately affects minorities. pic.twitter.com/rnVq8Nh3IL – Mya Green (@MyaLGreen) September 7, 2018
Sen. Booker crying during Aalayah Eastmond’s testimony.
How someone can listen to that testimony and still not want say we don’t need gun reform is beyond me – Rebecca (@pittore_becs) September 7, 2018
Totally started crying at my desk reading the testimony of Aalayah Eastmond. I can’t even imagine. I’m in awe of her for testifying. – Lexi Evans (@lexevans10) September 7, 2018
Aalayah Eastmond’s testimony had me in tears. – A Little Royal (@alittlebitroyal) September 7, 2018
Holy cow Aalayah Eastmond’s testimony. Minute by minute account of the school shooting she survived. Insane. – Emil Archambault (@EmilArchambault) September 7, 2018