Ava Olsen's life was changed forever after a 14-year-old shooter came to her elementary school one afternoon and opened fire. The teenager had taken a gun from his father's nightstand, shot him in the head, and then drove in a truck to the nearby elementary school in order to open fire, according to the Washington Post.
Newsweek reports that the shooting took place in 2016 in South Carolina.
It was during recess when the tragedy occurred. Suddenly, a teenager approached the playground in a Dodge Ram and jumped out of the pickup and pointed the gun. The accused teenager then began opening fire for a total of 12 seconds until his pistol jammed. A total of three people at Townsville Elementary School were tragically shot.
Ava's first-grade teacher was shot in the shoulder. Another classmate was shot in the foot. But the most tragic shots were the ones that struck 6-year-old Jacob Hall, who was 3.5 feet tall and the smallest kid in the class. Young Jacob was also Ava's first crush and kiss. He died three days later from injuries.
The Washington Post reports that Ava was absolutely overwhelmed by the loss and by the terror of what she had witnessed that afternoon on the playground. One doctor diagnosed her with post-traumatic stress disordered and recommended that she be homeschooled. In the months that followed, memories of the shooting consumed her.
Ava's younger brother continued to go to school even after she began homeschooling. While her brother was away, Ava worried about him, and always worried that he wouldn't come home. As a result, she decided that she would pick up a pen and paper and write to President Trump.
“Dear Mr. President,” Ava wrote. “I heard and saw it all happen and I was very scared. My best friend, Jacob, was shot and died. That made me very sad. I loved him and was going to marry him one day. I hate guns. One ruined my life and took my best friend.”
“Please,” she concluded, “keep kids safe from guns.”
After writing the letter to President Trump, memories of the shooter remained with Ava. But eventually, Trump sent a letter back to Ava, leaving both her and her mother in shock.
"Wow," said Ava after receiving the letter, according to the Washington Post.
Trump, who receives thousands of letters from children, addressed this letter from Ava.
"Is this real?" she asked her mom at the time of receiving it.
“Schools are places where children learn and grow with their friends. Their halls should be free of fear,” the letter read. “It is my goal as President to make sure that children in America grow up in safe environments, giving them the best opportunity to realize their full potential. I will continue to focus on protecting Americans and improving the safety of our Nation.
“Mrs. Trump and I hold you close in our hearts,” it continued. “We hope you always remember that no matter what may happen, there are so many people in your life who love you, support you, and want to see you fulfill all your dreams.”
Ava was apparently happy to receive the letter from Trump, but at the same time, she was bothered that there was no explicit comment about how he would keep children safe from further shootings.
So she wrote back to Trump again.
“I sometimes still think about that day in my head thinking it will happen again,” she wrote. “If you have the time, I have some ideas to help keep kids and schools safe. Sometimes people who live through a school shooting have better ideas.”
According to the Washington Post, her recommendations were: 1) move schools to safer places; 2) give children a place to run away to if something bad happens; 3) build schools in circles and put the playground in the middle, rather than next to the road.
In recent news, a Mississippi Sheriff just announced that officers were involved in a deadly shootout.