Parents of kids who attend Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School lined up on Thursday night to hug Cobra, Black Cat and Yankee.
The three volunteers are with the Guardian Angels, a non-profit network that organizes safety patrols in communities around the country. Their red berets and small tent on the sidewalk in front of the Parkland high school have been a steady presence since the shooting on Feb. 14.
“These guys were standing in front of the school every day, in the heat, with rain … protecting our kids,” said Jon Faber, whose two sons attend Stoneman Douglas.
Faber organized the event at Pine Trails Park to honor the Guardian Angels and thank community members who helped them by offering donations and setting up a “meal drive” to make sure they had breakfast and lunch.
The volunteers took off from work for the last few months so they patrol the school from the early morning until the afternoon on weekdays.
The school’s principal presented them with a trophy displaying an eagle, the Stoneman Douglas mascot, and invited them to graduation this Saturday.
David “Cobra” Clemente, who leads the Broward chapter of the Guardian Angels, said he doesn’t think they’ll be sitting in front of Stoneman Douglas when school starts up again next year.
“We want the kids to get back what they do best, which is learning,” he said. But the group will keep tabs on the school from their patrol cars.
He’s hoping someone will donate a space they can use as a headquarters over the summer.
“As long as Parkland needs the Guardian Angels, the Guardian Angels ain’t going nowhere,” he said.
Randi Weisselberg was one of the parents who asked Clemente for a hug. She lives across the street from the high school and said the Guardian Angels’ presence was a huge comfort, especially as news vans and helicopters lingered for weeks.
Her 15-year-old was in the freshman building during the shooting.
“My daughter loves them,” she said. “I bet you so many more of the kids talk to the Guardian Angels than they talk to their parents.”