MESA, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -Chicago Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo graduated from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida in 2007.
Rizzo is in Mesa for spring training and on Monday he talked to reporters about the shooting massacre that occurred at the school on Feb. 14.
“When [I] heard initial shooter, I took my next golf swing because that’s how numb this country is to it. Until something crazy happens, when you hear open shooter nowadays it’s like ‘oh, OK,’ take your next breath, and keep going,” said Rizzo. “Then I found out it was at Douglas. Ok you get a little more concerned, what’s going on? At first, it was just a few people injured, then you find out it was what it was, and it’s gut-wrenching. You just go numb.”
Rizzo said many people think they won’t be victims of a mass shooting. But in reality, it could happen to anyone.
He said he felt helpless being across the country from Parkland, Florida.
“You know, you just got to be there for people in these times. There’s really nothing you can say, there’s nothing you can do except for just be there and show that you care for them and you’re there for them because you know, as much as I want to say I know how it feels for them, I don’t. I didn’t lose anyone that was direct family but I feel like I did just cause I’m from there,” Rizzo said.
Rizzo returned to Parkland after the shooting to attend a vigil and show support for his community.
“I went back home to Parkland with what is going on,” Rizzo said. “I thought it was really important to go back and speak to the kids and the families that are really affected.”
Rizzo is proud of the survivors of the shooting who are speaking out and showing that they have voices.
“They just went through the scariest time of their life that no one should have to go through and for them to be outspoken about it, it shows that they’re not just going to sit back and be another statistic they really want to make a change. I can’t even sit up here with confidence and say hopefully this will be the last mass shooting because it probably won’t be, but hopefully this is one of the steps in the right direction,” Rizzo said. “This isn’t just another shooting, this is something that’s bigger than that.”
Rizzo continuously said he believes there needs to be a change, but he does not know what that change should be. He thinks that focus right now should be on the kids and families affected by the shooting.
On Wednesday, Feb. 14 a former student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High came to school with a gun, killing 17 people and injuring more. One of those who were killed was assistant football coach Aaron Feis, who gave his life to protect students from getting shot.
[SLIDESHOW: Photos of the deadly school shooting in Florida]
“He’s been there for a long time, every single one of my best friends in high school, we all have memories of coach Feis, and for him to lay his life down like that and save kids, it just shows the type of person he is,” Rizzo said. “He’s a true hero, you got this monster coming in and shooting up a school and he jumps in front of kids and saves their lives.”
He gave the children advice on how to deal with the tragedy they just went through.
“It’s going to get easier, life’s going to go on, the sun’s still going to rise so same thing, you know, it’s getting back to that normal routine as fast as you can and just don’t forget about it, always think about it and keep it in your mind but you got to get back to what you love doing,” Rizzo said.