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AR-15-style rifles have been used in multiple mass shootings in recent years, including the high school shooting in Parkland, Florida. See why. USA TODAY

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As hundreds of mourners started to leave a vigil for the victims of a school shooting in Parkland late Thursday, William Cody knelt in front of a white cross, decorated with candles and flowers, for a solemn moment of reflection.

He prayed for the victims of the Valentine’s Day school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

“I’m deeply hurt for the people that we’ve lost,” said Cody, 26, of Davie, his eyes still welling up with tears. “For a country as great as America is we shouldn’t have to experience this in our life. And I’d never expect something to hit so close to home.”

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Cody’s wife, Chelsea Briggs, teaches English at the high school. He visited her early on Wednesday to bring her flowers, chocolates and lunch.

An hour later the shooting spree began.

Cody got a call from his wife after she helped usher students to safety. 

“When I got that call I felt lost,” he said. “I felt contained. I was stuck at work. And I wanted to get to her as fast as possible, but I was just stuck at my job. And I literally felt so small in the world.” 

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At Thursday’s vigil Cody wanted to give his wife some space to grieve with her students. She had found out earlier in the day that one of her students died in the massacre. 

“She’s having a hard time,” he said. “She’s very upset.”

The massacre should be a wake-up call to lawmakers, Cody said.

“I hunt, I fish, there’s no reason why these guns should be on the market,” he said. “These are military-issued weapons. They should not be allowed to the public to be handled. It’s just wrong. It just makes no sense.” 

Authorities on Thursday said the suspected shooter bought the AR-15-style rifle used in the attack legally a year ago. 

“It just doesn’t make sense,” Cody said. “These things shouldn’t be happening.”

 

 

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