Their stories: 'Lives taken too soon' - the 17 victims of Florida's high school shooting (+ photo gallery)

From a coach who shielded students from gunfire to a promising Olympic hopeful, the stories of the victims have emerged after 17 people were killed in a US high school yesterday.

As the school day came to an end for students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida yesterday the fire alarm went off, sending them into the hallways.

But as students began evacuating suspected gunman, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, opened fire killing 17 and wounding more than a dozen others. 

As he appeared in court today the victims identities were confirmed. 

These are their stories.

Jaime Guttenberg, 14

Jaime Guttenberg.
Jaime Guttenberg. Source: Facebook

First victim to be identified. Her father Fred took to Facebook last night to express his sorrow.

"My heart is broken," he wrote.

"Jennifer Guttenberg and I lost our baby girl to a violent shooting at her school. We lost our daughter and my son, Jesse lost his sister.

"I am broken as I write this trying to figure out houw my family gets through this. We appreciate all of the calls and messages and we apologize for not reacting to everyone individually.

"Jen and I will be figuring things out today and so we ask that you respect out privacy. We will be getting messages out later regarding visitation. Hugs to all and hold your children tight."

She attended Broward school with her younger brother who survived and reportedly rushed home afterwards.

Scott Beigel.
Scott Beigel.

Scott Beigel, 35

Geography teacher and cross country coach at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

It's reported he was shot dead while trying to lock the door of his classroom again after letting a group of fleeing students in to hide.

Gina Montalto.
Gina Montalto.

Gina Montalto, 14

Described as "kind, caring, always smiling and wanting to help."

Gina, a student at the high school died late on Wednesday night (local time) from her injuries. She was a member of the school's winter guard team, which was meant to perform at a regional event in Tampa this coming weekend.

Meadow Pollack.
Meadow Pollack.

Meadow Pollack, 18

She was a senior at the high school and preparing for university.

Meadow was confirmed dead on Thursday (local time), after her father was at the school on Wednesday (local time) showing her photo around in the hope that she would be found alive.

Nicholas Dworet.
Nicholas Dworet.

Nicholas Dworet, 17

A senior at the high school, Nicholas would be celebrating his 18th birthday next month.

He was an aspiring Olympic swimmer, and had set his sights on competing in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Nick's devastated girlfriend is among those grieving his death.

A family friend described him as a "charismatic young man."

He had recently committed to joining the University of Indianapolis swim team as a freshman.

In a statement on Thursday (local time), University of Indianapolis President Robert Manuel said the school plans to find ways to help Nick's family.

"Nick's death is a reminder that we are connected to the larger world, and when tragedy hits in places around the world, it oftentimes affects us at home."

Cara Loughran.
Cara Loughran.

Cara Loughran, 14 

One of the youngest victims of the shooting. She was missing on Wednesday after the shooting and her mother Denise, and father rushed to the hotel where parents were told to go to reunite with their children in the hope that they would find her alive.

A grieving neighbour confirmed her death on Thursday.

"It is with a heavy heart and much regret that I write these words. Our next-door neighbour's daughter was one of the lives taken too soon by a senseless act of violence," wrote Danny Vogel on Facebook.

"RIP Cara, and fly with the angels. You will be greatly missed, and we will always love you and celebrate your beautiful life."

Martin Duque (right).
Martin Duque (right). Source: Instagram

Martin Duque, 14

Martin was a freshman at Stoneman Douglas High School. His older brother Miguel, a Douglas graduate, expressed his sorrow on Instagram.

"Words cannot describe my pain. I love brother Martin, you'll be missed buddy. I know you’'e in a better place." 

Alyssa Alhadeff.
Alyssa Alhadeff. Source: Facebook

Alyssa Alhadeff, 15

Alyssa was missing on Wednesday after the shooting. Her family frantically searched for her only to learn of her death the next day.

Her mother Lori Alhadeff told WSVN that her daughter had a promising future.

"Alyssa was so smart and beautiful, helpful, creative, outgoing.

"She had such a bright future, she was in all high honours classes – Spanish, Algebra – and she’s only a freshman."

Alyssa was also a soccer play, described as a "loved and well-respected member of our club and community," by the Parkland Soccer Club.

"I know Alyssa is in Heaven with God, and she's safe there.

Joaquin Oliver.
Joaquin Oliver. Source: Instagram

Joaquin Oliver, 17

Joaquin became a US citizen in 2017 after moving to America from Venezuela when he was a child.

The student known as "Guac" among his friends died in the shooting on Wednesday.

Aaron Feis.
Aaron Feis. Source: Facebook

Aaron Feis

An assistant football coach with the Stoneman Douglas team, Aaron is being hailed as a hero for sacrificing his life to save a student during the shootings.

"He selflessly shielded students from the shooter when he was shot. He died a hero and he will forever be in our hearts and memories," wrote MS Douglas Football on Twitter.

Chris Hixon.
Chris Hixon. Source: Facebook

Chris Hixon, 49

Chris was the athletic director and wrestling coach at Stoneman Douglas.

Fellow athletic directors across Broward County expressed condolences at the news of his death.

"Chris is probably the nicest guy I have ever met. He would give you the shirt off his back. He does so much. That is terrible that it would happen to anybody. It is so senseless," said Dan Jacob, athletic director at Coral Springs High School.

Alex Schachter.
Alex Schachter.

Alex Schachter, 14

Alex was a freshman at the high school, and played trombone in the school marching band.

Alex's mother died when he was five, and his older brother who also attends the high school survived the shooting.

His father Max Schachter told the New York Times Alex often played basketball with friends and was "a sweetheart of a kid".

Alex "just wanted to do well and make his parents happy," said his father.

Alaina Petty.
Alaina Petty.

Alaina Petty, 14

Alaina's great aunt Claudette McMahon Joshi wrote on Facebook, "There are no hashtags for moments like this, only sadness".

"Our hearts are with them and all the families touched by this tragedy."

Alaina was a member of the Latter Day Saints and her family said in a statement that they are "heartbroken" by their loss.

Peter Wang.
Peter Wang.

Peter Wang, 15

A freshman at Stoneman Douglas High School where he was a member of the ROTC (army training) program.

Peter's cousin Lin Chen said he was "so funny, caring and selfless."

She said a friend of his told her Peter was holding the door to let other students out before him.

"He is so brave. He is the person who is genuinely kind to everyone. He doesn’t care about popularity. He always s liked to cheer people up."

She said Peter has two younger brothers, aged 11 and five, and his parents were too upset to talk.

Luke Hoyer.
Luke Hoyer.

Luke Hoyer, 15

A freshman at the high school who loved basketball and eating Chicken McNuggets and macaroni and cheese, will be remembered as a "happy-go-lucky kid".

Luke's cousin Grant took to Facebook in "disbelief" that Luke was one of the 17 killed in the shooting.

"My thoughts and prayers go out to the Hoyer family and all the other victims families involved in this tragedy."

Helena Ramsey.
Helena Ramsey. Source: Facebook

Helena Ramsey, 17

Helena will be remembered as a "smart, kind hearted and thoughtful person".

Family member, Curtis Page Jr. took to Facebook to pay tribute to Helena.

"She was deeply loved and loved others even more so.

"Though she was somewhat reserved, she had a relentless motivation towards her academic studies, and her soft warm demeanour brought the best out in all who knew her."

He said she would have started university next year.

Carmen Schentrup.
Carmen Schentrup.

Carmen Schentrup, 16

Carmen was a promising student and a 2018 National Merit Scholar semifinalist, before her life was cut short on yesterday.

Victims of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida.
Victims of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida.