Parent of Parkland victim wears father-daughter dance costume on stand

Wearing the same costume he wore to their last father-daughter dance, the broken parent of parkland school massacre The victim said Wednesday that there were times when he found it hard to keep going.

Testimony at the Conviction trial of killer Nikolas CruzAnthony Montalto told jurors the loss of his daughter, Gina, 14, continues to wreak havoc on him.

“Life without Gina is almost unbearable,” he said as tearful onlookers watched in the gallery.

The teenager was among 14 students and three staff members shot dead in 2018 by Cruz with an AR-15 rifle at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in one of the worst mass shootings in the nation’s history.

“The pain I feel every day since she was murdered is unimaginable,” Montalto said. “My daughter was always trying to make things better for others.”

The father tearfully described his daughter’s attributes and achievements, recalling the heroic moment she saved a toddler from drowning when she was just 10 at the time.

Montalto said her daughter noticed a 2-year-old boy struggling to stay afloat in a swimming pool while his family was on vacation.

Anthony Montalto, the father of Parkland school shooting victim Gina Montalto, wore the costume he wore for a father-daughter dance while testifying at the sentencing trial of gunman Nikolas Cruz the August 3, 2022.
Anthony Montalto, the father of Parkland school shooting victim Gina Montalto, wore the costume he wore for a father-daughter dance while testifying at the sentencing trial of gunman Nikolas Cruz the August 3, 2022.
Amy Beth Bennett/Pool via REUTERS
Montalto said life without his daughter Gina is
Montalto said during Cruz’s trial that life without his daughter Gina is “unbearable.”
Amy Beth Bennett/South Florida Sun Sentinel via AP, Pool
Jennifer Montalto holding a photo of her daughter Gina while giving her victim impact statement.
Jennifer Montalto holding a photo of her daughter Gina while giving her victim impact statement.
Amy Beth Bennett/South Florida Sun Sentinel via AP, Pool

She rushed over and hoisted the toddler above the waterline as her parents rushed over.

Moved by Montalto’s deed, the boy’s grateful mother bought him a small gift as a token of her gratitude.

“Gina proudly displayed her turtle gift in her room to this day,” her dad said before holding back tears.

“She was kind, compassionate and caring. these are just some of the qualities that made her so special,” he said.

holding up a photo of Parkland victim Cara Loughran while on the stand.
Family friend Isabel Dalu holding a picture of Parkland victim Cara Loughran while on the stand.
Amy Beth Bennett/South Florida Sun Sentinel via AP, Pool

The straight student’s death has also deeply traumatized her younger brother, Anthony, who is struggling to make sense of her absence, according to their father.

“He and Gina were best friends,” Montalto said, again struggling to speak. “Playing together and filling our home with laughter. There is now a deafening silence. Broken only by the deep sighs and soft sobs that accompany what were once fond memories of our children playing.

Max Schachter, father of 14-year-old victim Alex Schachter, told the court the loss of his son – who was killed barely sitting at his desk – left him in pieces.

Max Schachter, the father of 14-year-old victim Alex Schachter, testified that his family was broken up after the shooting.
Max Schachter, the father of 14-year-old victim Alex Schachter, testified that his family was broken up after the shooting.
Amy Beth Bennett/South Florida Sun Sentinel via AP, Pool

“Our family is broken,” he said. “There is this constant void. I feel like I can’t really be happy. If I smile, I know that behind that smile is the distinct realization that I will always be sad and miserable because Alex isn’t there.

While preparing his eulogy after his death, the father said he searched through Alex’s belongings and found a poem he had written for an English class. He read it for the jury on Wednesday.

“It can be hard to breathe sometimes,” the poem reads. “But hold on tight and don’t let go. It may be too much sometimes, the twists and turns sometimes, but get up and finally everything stops and you won’t know when or how.

The jurors will decide if Cruz gets the death penalty or life without parole. On Thursday, the jury is due to walk around the school where the shooting took place, according to the Sun Sentinel.

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