By Joseph Hincks
March 5, 2018

A New York prisoner who, as a teenager, opened fire at his school has lauded the bravery of survivors of February’s high school massacre in Parkland, Florida.

Jon Romano was 16 when he brought a pump-action shotgun to his New York high school in 2004. One teacher was injured when Romano opened fire, but the school’s principal disarmed him before anybody was killed. Romano is now serving time for attempted murder and reckless endangerment, the BBC reports.

In a letter sent from his prison to New York’s Times Union, Romano, now 30, wrote that the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School were “courageous and inspiring for demanding action from politicians.”

After an expelled student killed 17 classmates and staff with an AR-15 assault rifle, the Florida students have lobbied for tighter gun controls and criticized politicians who they say allow the National Rifle Association to buy influence.

A student-led March on Washington later this month will draw further attention to the issue.

Read more: Stoneman Douglas Student: How Photography Is Helping Me Cope With This Nightmare

Romano’s letter to an editor at the Times Union came in response to a Feb. 21 column that featured comments from John Sawchuk, the school principal who subdued him.

Sawchuk, who Romano calls “a hero who I owe my life to,” said in the column that “a lot of people would have been dead” if Romano had bought an AR-15 or another semi-automatic weapon to school, rather than a shotgun.

Write to Joseph Hincks at joseph.hincks@timeinc.com.

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