Parkland, Florida, school shooting victim Peter Wang should be honored for his selflessness, his cousin Aaron Chen said in a recent video.
Chen is seen fighting back tears in the emotional clip shared on Facebook Monday. He describes some of his most treasured memories with his 15-year-old cousin and calls on the world to remember the teen for his spirit rather than his death.
“My cousin Peter Wang was one of 17 people who was murdered in cold blood last Wednesday at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting,” Chen says in the video. “But he wasn’t just my cousin. He was my brother, he was my rock, and he was everything good that I strived to be. I don’t want Peter just to be remembered as [part of] the world’s ninth most fatal shooting. I want him to be remembered as the best brother, cousin, son and friend anyone could ever ask for and more.”
In the video, Chen says he and Wang celebrated birthdays together, spent summers together and “shared everything.” At one point, the two were even sent to live with a teacher for a summer ― a memory that Chen came to cherish because of Wang, he said.
I would’ve died if it wasn’t for Peter. he made sure I wasn’t bullied at our first school. Even though he was a whole year younger than me, he protected me and I couldn’t protect him during the shooting.
Aaron Chen, cousin of Parkland shooting victim
Chen, who is a year older than Wang, moved to the U.S. from China about a decade ago. He explains that his cousin helped him adjust to life in the new country.
“Being a new kid sucks, but imagine being a new kid who doesn’t speak English,” Chen says in the video. “I would’ve died if it wasn’t for Peter. he made sure I wasn’t bullied at our first school. Even though he was a whole year younger than me, he protected me and I couldn’t protect him during the shooting.”
The cousin says that he had expected to spend much more time with Wang and believed that, with his best friend at his side, “everything was going to be OK.”
“We were going to grow old together. I was going to die first and he was going to die a little while later, so we’d always be together,” he adds.
Chen concludes his video on a serious note, pointing out the effect that gun violence has had on his and other families.
Chen describes in his video how Wang was shot in the head while the holding a door open to help others escape.
“So don’t you dare come up to me and tell me there’s no such thing as gun violence,” Chen says in the video. “I have a message for the families that also lost someone that day — you are not alone. We are not going to let this happen to anyone, anywhere. Not again. Not ever again. That’s what Peter stood for.”
Wang, who was born in New York City, was a member of the U.S. Army Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC) and had dreamed of attending West Point Military Academy, according to the Sun Sentinel. On Tuesday, he was posthumously admitted to the prestigious institution.
Since the teen’s death, many have come out to attest to his empathy and kindness. The 15-year-old “was always happy and bubbly and smiley,” Angelyse Perez, a senior at the high school and member of the ROTC, told the Miami Herald.
Lin Chen, another cousin of Wang’s, also spoke of teen’s loving spirit to the Sun Sentinel.
“He is so brave,” she said. “He is the person who is genuinely kind to everyone. He doesn’t care about popularity. He always liked to cheer people up. He is like the big brother everyone wished they had.’’