Student who recently transferred from Florida school speaks at Charleston rally

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - A rally for safer schools brought out more than 100 people in Marion Square on Monday.

A student who just moved to the Lowcountry with her family attended the school where a gunman killed 17 people last week.

Ava Gallo transferred from the school two months ago.

The family says they didn't want their story to end in Parkland, Fla. so they moved here with retirement in mind.

However on Monday the family says now they know the real reason why they're here.

They feel it was God's calling because their daughter would have been at school when the shooting happened.

"Ava would have heard those gunshots, she would have seen those students, teachers and those coaches being shot," said Ava's mother, Shannon Gallo.

The shooting happened at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

Ava was on the competitive cheer team at the school.

"I was really scared and concerned for my friends," Ava said. "I just really didn't really know how to feel because I wasn't getting any texts back and I didn't know how my friends were doing."

Two of Ava's friend didn't make it.

"I don't know what I would have done if that had been my child in that classroom," Shannon said. "I'm just so thankful I have her here with me today. I can hug her and know that we're safe and we're okay for now, but we've got to get stricter with these laws.

The rally for safer schools brought out students, teachers, educators and concerned community members who say they're tired of kids dying because of gun violence in schools.

Elijah Packer is a College of Charleston freshman and says he thought about what he would do if a shooter came into one of his classes, something he says he shouldn't have to think about.

"When I have kids of my own, I don't want to send them out on the school bus with fear," he said. "That's not what education is about. It's about them creating positive change."

People chanted "no more excuses" at the rally.

A message to lawmakers to support stricter gun laws, with many people calling for a ban on assault rifles, proper background checks, installing metal detectors in schools and other protections that will help prevent school shootings.

Junior at James Island Charter High, Brianna Craig, is one of many students who made some of the posters for the rally.

She felt it was time to speak out about what's happening to young people.

"It's just so much buildup. It's just something that needs to happen," Craig said.

Ava wants people to remember the lives of her friends.

"They both had really pure hearts and they were just amazing people," she said. "I don't want anyone to forget that they were extraordinary. They had bright futures ahead of them."

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