Chicago Cubs Player Attends Candlelight Vigil After Shooting At Alma Mater

by Robert Silverman

February 16, 2018
Anthony Rizzo of the Chicago Cubs. Photo by Stacy Revere/ Stringer/Getty Images.

Anthony Rizzo, the Chicago Cubs three-time All-Star first baseman, left spring training to attend a candlelight vigil at his alma mater, following the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. On Feb. 14, a 19-year-old armed with an AR-15 semiautomatic weapon who had posted a series of racist and threatening messages online, killed 17 students and faculty members. In one YouTube comment, he wrote that he aspired to become a “professional school shooter.”

Rizzo, who graduated from Stoneman Douglas in 2007, was joined by additional speakers and thousands in attendance at the vigil on Thursday night. In a quavering and emotion-soaked voice, he thanked the teachers, students, administrators, and first responders, expressed his pride in the community, and promised to do whatever possible to help in the recovery.

“I want you to know that you're not alone in your grief. We're all grieving with you,” Rizzo said. “So whatever comfort I can give, I will give.”

But Rizzo also called for policy changes, condemning the vicious and benumbing cycle that arises after every act of mass gun violence.

"We see this on TV too often,” he said. “I feel like it’s all the time. There’s a cycle to it. We get horrified that this violence is inflicted on our kids. We get angry that there’s nothing we can do and nothing is done about it. And then we ultimately get immune and move on to something else. But then it happens in our own town — in your own school, or movie theater, or nightclub, or church. And we realize that it can happen to us, in our safe and tight knit community, Parkland."

Per ESPN, when multiple speakers, including Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel, called for the passing of “common sense gun laws,” Rizzo joined in the standing ovation.

It’s unclear when Rizzo will return to the Cubs, but manager Joe Maddon told him not to worry about baseball for the moment, promising that the team would support Rizzo in his efforts.

"I definitely want him to go back there and become involved, as he should. It's just horrible,” said Maddon. “What are the proper words right now? I don't even know what the proper words are except that 'we're there for you.'"

Though Maddon explained that he was far from an expert when it comes to gun violence and felt he needed further information and the chance to meet with “the appropriate people”  before he could back specific policy proposals, he also joined Rizzo in expressing his dismay at the preponderance of and easy access to military-grade hardware in America.

Via CBS Chicago:

“There’s got to be something to be done about that,” Maddon said. “There has to be. More specifically, I don’t know enough except that it just doesn’t make any sense that a (semi-) automatic rifle has to be in anybody’s hands. I just don’t understand that.

According to political  anaylst David Axelrod, in the United States, for every 100,000 people, 3.85 will be killed by a firearm, either as the result of a violent act or by suicide. By comparison, in countries that have enacted more stringent gun control laws, the rates are far, far lower.

One Parkland student named David Hogg, was interviewed by CNN in the hours following the shooting. Hogg begged politicians to accomplish something beyond expressions of grief and support. Speaking directly into the camera, he said, "We're children. You guys are the adults. You need to take some action and play a role. Work together, come over your politics, and get something done."

Rizzo’s speech can be seen in its entirety here:

Share image by Stacy Revere/ Stringer/Getty Images.

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