Parkland victim's dad slams VP Kamala Harris' 'photo op' visit to 'push an agenda': 'Slap in the face'

After Vice President Kamala Harris announced her plans to walk the halls of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, a parent of one of the victims of the deadly 2018 school shooting shared his frustration about the blatant “push” and “promotion” of gun control.

Ryan Petty, whose 14-year-old daughter Alaina Petty was tragically killed in the Parkland, Florida shooting in Feb. 2018, told Fox News Digital that he is “tired” of the high school being used for a “photo op” for politicians who want to “push” a gun control agenda, rather than understanding what led up to the tragedy.

“What’s frustrating to me is that this building should have been demolished years ago, and it’s now being used as a photo op for politicians that want to push an agenda,” Petty said. “But politicians, quite frankly, don’t understand what it takes to protect our nation’s schools. They don’t understand the causes of the Parkland tragedy.”

“They don’t understand what led to the tragedy and are just there to push their gun control agenda,” he said. “I’m tired of it. It needs to stop. The building needs to be demolished.”


Vice President Kamala Harris speaks during a ‘First In The Nation’ campaign rally at South Carolina State University on February 02, 2024 in Orangeburg, South Carolina. (Brandon Bell/Getty Images)

Vice President Harris will visit the school grounds on Saturday with family members who lost a loved one during the deadly massacre that killed 14 students and 3 adults, and wounded 17 others.

Petty said that Harris’ visit is a “slap in the face” to families from the shooting who have worked for six years on solutions to school shootings.

“The vice president and the White House’s Office of Gun Violence Prevention made it very clear to families early on that nothing short of new gun control was going to satisfy them in protecting our nation’s schools,” he said. “And that is just a slap in the face to those of us that have worked for six years now to try to protect our nation’s schools.”

Image 1 of 3

People visit the memorial for the victims of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida, that killed 17 people, on the fifth anniversary of the massacre on February 14, 2023.  (Photo by Saul Martinez/Getty Images)

Image 2 of 3

On February 14, 2018, 14 students and three staff members were killed during a mass shooting at the school. (Photo by Saul Martinez/Getty Images)

Image 3 of 3

A memorial is made outside the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School where 17 students and faculty were killed in a mass shooting in Parkland, Florida, Feb. 19, 2018. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File)

He said that there are “many ways” that America can protect children without “infringement on Second Amendment rights.”

“There are so many ways that we can protect our kids and our teachers at school that don’t require the infringement on the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding gun owners around the country,” Petty said. “But the vice president and the Office of Gun Violence Prevention don’t want to hear any of those solutions. What they want to do is create an opportunity for the vice president to spout gun control talking points at a site that, quite frankly, is hallowed ground at this point.”


“I find the whole thing offensive,” he added.

Photos of the 17 people killed during the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School mass shooting are displayed on the 5th anniversary of the shooting on Feb. 14, 2023 in Pine Trails Park in Parkland, Florida. (Saul Martinez/Getty Images)

The father of one of the Parkland shooting victims pointed to a recent visit from Secret Service personnel and the opportunity families were given to discuss the details of the school shooting tragedy.

“A good visit is one like we had with the United States Secret Service that came through the school building a couple of weeks ago. I participated in that. It didn’t involve the press or the media, and it wasn’t an opportunity for anyone to do a photo op,” Petty said.

“What we did with the Secret Service is was that we walked them through what happened that day so that they could learn from that,” Petty said. “And I’ll tell you that the team that was there, which included the director of the Secret Service, were moved by what they heard that day.”


Petty said that he was able to walk into the English classroom his daughter Alaina was in when she was shot and killed and show law enforcement that she was not able to find a safe space in the classroom.

“We walked them through and explained how the shooter entered the campus, how he went through unlocked doors, how he entered the building, and then how he indiscriminately shot at anything he could see in the hallways and in the classrooms,” Petty said.

“I was able to go into the classroom Alaina was killed in,” he said. “And I showed them where she was sitting, and they saw that she was not able to get into a safe space in that classroom, a space where the shooter couldn’t see her. These are all things that I would hope the vice president would take away.”

Vice President Kamala Harris speaks during a ‘First In The Nation’ campaign rally at South Carolina State University on February 02, 2024 in Orangeburg, South Carolina. (Brandon Bell/Getty Images)

Petty said that deadly school shootings are preventable with better communication between law enforcement agencies and schools.

“What we learned is that this was a preventable tragedy, like most of them are, and there are warning signs and behaviors that are exhibited prior to an attack that if action is taken, these individuals that want to come in and attack a school can be diverted down a different path,” he said.

Petty referenced that the FBI had received two tips about the school attack and failed to communicate with local law enforcement.

“The federal government failed to protect, failed to act on information that they had that would have prevented the Parkland tragedy,” Petty said.

Petty said that he does not believe that the vice president is here to learn more about the Parkland tragedy but to push her “preferred solution” of gun control legislation.

“I think the vice president is there because she believes gun control is the only solution to these tragedies, and she’s going to stand in front of Marjory Stoneman Douglas and tell the country that her preferred solution, which is gun control, is the only thing that’s going to work here,” he said.

“I find that incredibly frustrating. It’s an insult to the families that have worked so hard to make our schools safer in the state of Florida and schools safer in the nation,” Petty said. “She’s just spitting in the face of all of that work because she wants to promote gun control.”


Nicole Parker, a former FBI special agent, explained that field offices for the FBI received two tips about a possible school shooting. (Fox News)

Nicole Parker, a former FBI Special Agent and a Fox News Contributor, responded to the Parkland shooting and said that the FBI failed to respond to two tips prior to the shooting.”

“According to the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Safety Commission Report, the FBI had received two tips regarding the killer. One of them was a detailed 13-minute phone call on Jan. 5, 2018. It was from a family friend of the shooter who had concerns he may perpetrate a school shooting,” Parker told Fox News Digital. “The tip was closed without further investigation by any local FBI field office.”

“Additionally, there was another tip on Sep. 25, 2017, when a civilian from Mississippi noticed a post on YouTube by the killer who said he was going to be the next school shooter. This tip was forwarded to the local FBI office in Missippi,” Parker said. “After conducting an interview, no legal process was served.”

Parker said that she “felt a tremendous sense of guilt” following the shooting.

“Although I had no part in responding to or knowledge of these tips, I felt a tremendous sense of guilt.”

Sarah Rumpf-Whitten is a breaking news writer for Fox News Digital and Fox Business. 

She is a native of Massachusetts and is based in Orlando, Florida.

Story tips and ideas can be sent to [email protected] and on X: @s_rumpfwhitten.

Check Also

North Carolina parents live carefree life after not reporting disappearance of daughter still missing

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – A North Carolina couple recently found guilty of failing to report their …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *