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Parkland parents, local leaders react to elementary school shooting in Texas

At least 19 young souls were taken in minutes at an elementary school over 1,000 miles away, but the pain in Florida is the same.

TAMPA, Fla. — It's a heartache you can't explain.

"I'm in just pure shock. We know exactly what they're going through right now. The agony of sitting in a room waiting to hear what you already know," Gena and Tom Hoyer said. 

The couple knows the pain felt by families who have lost a loved one in a mass shooting all too well. Their son Luke was just 15 when he was killed at Parkland High School.

"Before Luke was killed, you'd see something like this and we would have a lot of empathy and sympathy. Now it just physically hurts when I see something like this," Tom said.

The feeling is the same for Andy Pollack. His daughter Meadow was killed in the same shooting.

"It angers me that there are more kids that were murdered. That more families and more parents will never be the same ever again," Pollack said.

At least 19 young souls were taken in minutes in an elementary school over 1,000 miles away, but the pain in the Tampa Bay area is the same.

"It's just beyond comprehension that someone could take the lives of so many innocent children," Tampa Mayor Jane Castor said.

After learning the news, the former police chief was horrified and unable to fathom how someone could know the impact the bullet has on the human body, but continue to shoot and kill children.

"We as a country have got to stop making these statements about how horrific this is until the next incident occurs, and actually take steps to stop this violence," Castor said.

Officials in the local area are focused on keeping our community and schools safe. In Tampa, Chief Mary O'Connor said the police department is prepared for any situation that might be similar.

"We are prepared for this. We obviously all internalize it because that's what the police are intended to do, you know, protect the community. But we all take a moment and go, 'Okay, now, how can we prevent this from happening? How can we also respond better,'" O'Connor said.

She said the department continually trains and they refresh on the policies and procedures regarding mass shootings whenever an incident happens.

"We have to be ready to have all hands on deck if something like this was to happen in order to prevent a mass casualty incident," O'Connor said.

In Polk County, Sheriff Grady Judd's deputies are always on alert.

"I can tell you this, tomorrow in Polk County when children go to their campus, there will be an armed guardian, an armed police officer or an armed deputy, there to protect the children," Judd said.

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