Mark Wilson/Getty Images(PARKLAND, Fla.) — He saved lives in uniform and, his friends say, didn’t flinch in the face of an alleged mass shooter in a Parkland, Fla., high school last week.
Now, friends of 15-year-old Peter Wang are trying to posthumously honor the “hero” by petitioning for a military burial.
Were it not for the heroics displayed by Peter, his friends are certain the death toll on Wednesday would have been higher.
Nikolas Cruz, 19, allegedly gunned down innocent and unarmed students and teachers with a semiautomatic rifle. He’s been charged with 17 counts of murder.
When the mass shooter was marching straight for Peter’s classroom, according to one of his close friends who were there, Wang stood tall in full Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC) regalia and sacrificed his life as he ushered other students and teachers to safety.
“He was pointing the door open for other people to escape and then he was struck by the bullets,” classmate and friend Aiden Ortiz told ABC station WPLG-TV.
“I want people to know he died a hero,” the teen added. “He died saving many people.”
Just days after the shooting, Aiden says he’s still struggling with losing his friends.
“Every time I sleep I just keep thinking of bodies,” he said. “I’m thinking of who’s there and who’s not there anymore.”
Another classmate, Rachel Kuperman, remembered the last time she saw Peter. It was the day before the shooting, and she was trying to figure out what to do after realizing she forgot her lunch.
True to form, Peter came to the rescue.
“He went to the vending machine with me and he bought me Sprite and candy and snacks,” she said in an interview with WPLG-TV, before covering her face with her hands and breaking down in tears. “He put others before himself.”
Aiden and Rachel have pushed to formally revere Peter by spearheading a petition on the White House website “We the People.” The goal is to have the federal government bury Peter with military honors.
“His selfless actions have led to the survival of dozens in the area,” the petition, started Friday, reads. “Wang died a hero, and deserves to be treated as such, and deserves a full honors military burial.”
By Sunday evening the petition garnered 17,000 signatures. It needs a requisite total of 100,000 signatures within 30 days to receive a White House response.
Peter’s funeral and burial are scheduled to take place on Tuesday morning in Coral Springs, Florida.
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