LDS teen Alaina Petty tragically lost her life in the Florida school shooting that left at least 17 dead and another 14 injured.
Early Thursday morning, Elder Stephen E. Thompson, the local Area Authority, first confirmed Alaina’s death to the public with the following statement, which has been released on social media:
“Dear Brethren: a little after 1 a.m. this morning President Smith confirmed that 14 year old Alaina Petty passed away in the shooting incident at her high school. She was a valiant young member of the Coral Springs Ward. President Smith was with her parents Brother and Sister Petty when that was confirmed to them (Brother Petty serves as the Stake Executive Secretary and Sister Petty is the Coral Springs Ward Relief Society President).”
The bishop of the Coral Springs Ward also released a statement online, saying:
“It is with a heavy heart that I convey the passing of Alaina Petty in the school shooting yesterday. Maddy Wilford was also shot multiple times and is in the hospital receiving the help she needs. We are heartsick about Alaina and Maddy, and our thoughts and prayers go out to the Petty and Wilford families in love and concern.”
High school junior Madeleine Wilford was also was injured in the attack, receiving gunshots wounds to the arm and the back.
“Dear Friends and Family, I have to thank my Lord and Savior for sparring my daughters life today,” wrote Maddy’s mother online, along with a photo of the two together.
“I feel Blessed beyond words, knowing that many didn’t survive. I wanted to give an update since there has been an outpouring of love and prayers on her behalf and I as her Mother I have truly felt them. Madeleine made it through her second surgery, she incurred multiple gunshot wounds with an AR-15 assault rifle. The surgeons didn’t know how many exactly, but she is alive which is a miracle. As the surgeons said, it only takes one. She had one that went through her back, crushing her ribs, piercing through her right lung and exiting through her stomach. Several went through the shoulder and traveled the length of her right arm before exiting. She lost so much blood, but she is stable and in ICU. She will undergo a third surgery tomorrow to put in permanent titanium plates to hold her ribs together. Even after all of that, the bullets missed her liver, reproduction organs, heart, she could have been paralyzed. It is a miracle….The doctors seem positive that Madeleine is young and strong and will recover over time. She is on a ventilator since she has one lung and the ribs are crushing the other. God give me strength that I do not possess on my own.”
In a statement given to LDS Living, Alaina’s passing was mourned deeply by her family. In part, the statement detailed Alaina’s selfless service and the hope the family has in their eternal covenants.
“Alaina was a vibrant and determined young woman, loved by all who knew her. Alaina loved to serve. She served her community through her participation in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas JROTC program and her countless hours of service as a volunteer for the “Helping Hands” program of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Alaina was part of hundreds of volunteers that rushed to the most heavily impacted areas of Florida to clean up and help rebuild the lives of those devastated by Hurricane Irma. Her selfless service brought peace and joy to those that had lost everything during the storm.
While we will not have the opportunity to watch her grow up and become the amazing woman we know she would become, we are keeping an eternal perspective. We are grateful for the knowledge that Alaina is a part of our eternal family and that we will reunite with her. This knowledge and unabiding faith in our Heavenly Father’s plan gives us comfort during this difficult time.”
On Thursday morning, the Church released an official statement regarding the tragic events.
“To all of the victims and their loved ones, we extend our love. These are hours filled with grief, emptiness and a terrible sense of loss. We unite our prayers with millions of others who are mourning and praying for them.”
Aleah is a graduate of Southern Virginia University, where she studied English, Creative Writing, and Dance. She now works full time as a marketing and product manager, writer, and editor. Aleah served a mission in California and loves baking, Lang Leav poetry, Gaynor Minden pointe shoes, and Bollywood movies.