Former Parkland student voices 'gut-wrenching' heartbreak at Calgary march for gun control

Matthew Greenfield said the events of the Feb. 14 mass shooting in Parkland, Florida, that saw 17 people killed and 17 wounded, didn't hit him until he saw his hometown and former high school on CNN, a few hours after he heard the news.

Matthew Greenfield attended Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where 17 people were shot dead

Matthew Greenfield, a former Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student, attends a March for Our Lives rally in Calgary on Saturday. (Audrey Neveu/CBC)

Matthew Greenfield said the events of the Feb. 14 mass shooting in Parkland, Fla., that saw 17 people killed and 17 wounded, didn't hit him until he saw his hometown and former high school on CNN a few hours after he heard the news.

"That was super gut-wrenching, and then it got way more magnified when I got home that day and called my mom, and called some of my buddies who have siblings at the school," Greenfield said.

The former Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student, who plays hockey at the University of Calgary, described the feeling of hearing from his high-school friends about the text messages they had received from panicked siblings, locked inside their classrooms, as shots rang out through the halls.

"Heartbreaking is not a strong enough word," he said.

Protesters hold signs aloft at the March for Our Lives rally against gun violence in Calgary. (Audrey Neveu/CBC)

Greenfield and his teammates at the U of C were some of the more than 200 that attended the March for Our Lives in Calgary in front of the U.S. Consulate on Saturday, to call for stricter gun control laws. 

The march was one of 800 held around the world to protest gun violence and honour the victims of the Florida shooting.

Greenfield remembers one of the victims, assistant football coach and security guard Aaron Feis, who died after throwing himself in front of students to shield them from bullets.

"He was there when I was there. I saw him every day," he said. "It's real. That's what it is. For me, it's always terrible, but when it hits your home it just feels completely different."

"It felt awful, It was too close to home," said Erin Reid, a 20-year-old Mount Royal University student who attended the march. 

Erin Reid grew up in Florida. She said she was shocked when she heard the news of the Parkland high school shooting. (Audrey Neveu/CBC)

Reid, who was born and raised in South Florida, said she felt nauseated when she heard the news about the shooting.

"It honestly froze me. I was studying for midterms and I just shut down and started crying. I knew someone that was on the campus," she said.

Reid said she attended the march to show solidarity for her home country, a message Greenfield echoed.

"I'm here to support my school, support gun control laws and try and make a difference and make a change that needs to happen," he said.

"Hopefully we can make a change. It sucks that this is what had to happen to get us to that point but hopefully something good can come out of it."

With files from Audrey Neveu