Wednesday, February 28, 2024

These students have one rallying cry following the mass shooting: ‘We have had enough’

VIRGINIA BEACH — On the one-week anniversary of the Municipal Center shooting and “National Gun Violence Awareness Day,” the 16-year-old Christian Kerlick and some of his peers endured the weather Friday to meet in the middle of Town Center here where they rallied for “common sense gun laws.”

“No matter what, this issue happens so we’re not going to let anything stop us from getting our voices heard and something gets done to resolve this issue,” Kerlick said.

Kerlick and three other student activists Arlyn Brown, Katelyn Monostori, and Jenna Sweatland worked together last year to start the South Hampton Roads chapter of March for Our Lives.

This year, they’ve partnered with Students Demand Action in response to the mass shooting on May 31 that left 12 people dead and four more wounded inside Building 2 at the city’s Municipal Center.

“It’s never going to be a good time. That shooting didn’t happen at a ‘good time,’ but when things happen, people need to act on them,” Kerlic said.

Related Story: These students have grown up in the age of mass shootings, school lockdowns. They all say: ‘we’ve had enough’

Among the dead were four engineers who worked to maintain streets and protect wetlands and three right-of-way agents who reviewed property lines. Others included an account clerk, a technician, an administrative assistant and a special projects coordinator.

(WYDaily/ Courtesy of Virginia Beach Police Department)

Virginia Beach Police Chief Jim Cervera identified the shooter, who died in a gunbattle with police, as a longtime city employee who worked as an engineer in the Municipal Complex. The shooter sent an emailed resignation letter to his boss just hours before the shooting.

Key speakers Friday demanded “common sense gun laws” and action from legislators and included state lawmakers like Dels. Cheryl Turpin D-85, and Kelly Fowler D- 21.

Student activists like Mattie Anderton and Lucas Hallauer also spoke.

Anderton organized a “die-in” at the Town Center last year after shooting at Parkland, Florida.

She vowed this year will be her last protest.

“I am refusing to accept the idea that we will be here again next year, Anderton said. “No more, never again. We have declared war on gun violence and this time, we will win.”

After his speech, Hallauer read the name of each of the 12 victims “In the memory of Laquita Brown we have had enough. In the memory of Tara Gallagher we have had enough…”

Gov. Ralph Northam announced that July 9 is the date for the special session for members of the General Assembly to “engage in an open and transparent debate and that the bills brought before the legislature are put to a vote by the entire General Assembly.”

Related Story: Virginia Beach mass shooting aftermath: Northam announces special session on gun control

“I’ll be asking for votes and laws, not thoughts and prayers,” said Northam.


Kerlick spoke before closing the rally with two minutes of silence, “none of this is possible without this community, our community,” he said. “This is our first step, let’s keep on walking.”


John Mangalonzo
John Mangalonzo
John Mangalonzo ( is the managing editor of Local Voice Media’s Virginia papers – WYDaily (Williamsburg), Southside Daily (Virginia Beach) and HNNDaily (Hampton-Newport News). Before coming to Local Voice, John was the senior content editor of The Bellingham Herald, a McClatchy newspaper in Washington state. Previously, he served as city editor/content strategist for USA Today Network newsrooms in St. George and Cedar City, Utah. John started his professional journalism career shortly after graduating from Lyceum of The Philippines University in 1990. As a rookie reporter for a national newspaper in Manila that year, John was assigned to cover four of the most dangerous cities in Metro Manila. Later that year, John was transferred to cover the Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines. He spent the latter part of 1990 to early 1992 embedded with troopers in the southern Philippines as they fought with communist rebels and Muslim extremists. His U.S. journalism career includes reporting and editing stints for newspapers and other media outlets in New York City, California, Texas, Iowa, Utah, Colorado and Washington state.

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