The Brett Kavanaugh hearings have been dominated by textbook conversations about the reach of the Second Amendment, but on Friday, that changed with testimony from a student about her own experience cowering under a fellow student’s dead body as the Parkland, Florida, shootings played out last February.
Aalayah Eastmond told the Senate Judiciary Committee – however, only 5 senators were present – she is “concerned since learning Brett Kavanaugh’s views on guns”, and outline in detail what happened on February 14 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
“We heard a round of extremely loud pops,” Eastmond said, according to her prepared testimony.
Her first thought was that it was a senior prank until she saw “red on the floor.” She began smelling and inhaling smoke and gunpowder, and then one of her classmates fell in front of her.
“I then placed myself underneath his lifeless body,” she will say.
She expressed concern about Kavanaugh’s nomination and recalled Parkland father Fred Guttenberg’s encounter with Kavanaugh earlier this week.
Guttenberg accused Kavanaugh of ignoring him as he tried to shake his hand. Sources close to Kavanaugh pushed back saying the nominee had no idea who the man, Fred Guttenberg, was and that security intervened to end the exchange.
Eastmond talked about phone calls she made to her own parents.
“I immediately called my mom. I told her my last goodbye, and I told her how much I loved her. I apologized for all the things I might’ve done in my lifetime to upset her, and the phone hung up. I then called my father, I told him how much I loved him, I told him to tell my brothers I love them, and I said my last goodbyes,” she testified.
She also spoke about emerging from the school and finding a friend and her mom. “They called the police over, and they began picking body matter from my hair.”
Kavanaugh will not be in the hearing room Friday but has testified that violence in schools is something we all “detest.”
Democrats have pushed him on an opinion he wrote in 2011 on gun control.
Kavanaugh dissented from a majority opinion of the DC Circuit that upheld a ban that applied to semiautomatic rifles in the District of Columbia. He relied on Supreme Court precedent and wrote that the Court had held that “handguns – the vast majority of which today are semi-automatic – are constitutionally protected because they have not traditionally been banned and are in common use by law-abiding citizens.”
During his testimony he acknowledged that people “passionately disagree” with the Supreme Court’s precedent. But that as a lower court judge “I’m following all the precedent.”
He said that in his opinion he explained in “painstaking detail” why he thought the test he applied in the case was appropriate. And he said that the Supreme Court opinion – “allowed a lot of gun regulation, machine guns can be banned” he said as well as laws prohibiting possession by the people with mental illness and in government buildings and schools.
He spoke about growing up in the Washington, DC, area that has been “plagued by, in the ’70s and ‘80s, plagued by gang and gun, drug violence, and it’s known for a while as the murder capital of the world. “
Eastmond advised senators: “As you make your final decision, think about it as if you had to justify and defend your choice to those who we lost to gun violence. If Kavanaugh doesn’t even have the decency to shake hands with a father of a victim, he definitely won’t have the decency to make life changing decisions that affect real people.”
CNN’s Sophie Tatum contributed to this report.