7-year-old school shooting survivor asks Trump how he'll keep kids safe from guns

Ava saw her best friend die in shooting

By JASON KURTZ
Copyright 2018 CNN

Ava Olsen, 7, is interviewed by CNN's Brooke Baldwin about her letter to President Trump asking how he will keep students safe from gun violence.

(CNN) - In 2016, Ava Olsen, then 6 years old, survived a shooting at her South Carolina elementary school. So did her little brother, and her teacher. But he best friend Jacob wasn't as lucky.

Devastated by the incident, Ava picked up a pencil and wrote to the President.

"Are you going to keep kids safe? How can you keep us safe?" she asked, pleading "don't let any more bad people get guns and hurt kids."

Though Donald Trump replied to Ava, his response lacked specifics, and she isn't satisfied.

The second-grader still wants to know how "he can help keep kids safe," she told Brooke Baldwin on Monday.

Ava and her mother, Mary Olson, appeared side by side via Skype on "CNN Newsroom" on Monday, in the hope of pressing the President for more detail.

"I guess I'm not quite sure where, when, or what the timeline is, rather, for doing something about these school violence incidents," Mary Olson told Baldwin. "I ask that he take a stand now and end this now ... this is, to me, ridiculous that kids are going to school and worrying about their safety."

It's that safety that Ava and her best friend were robbed of 17 months ago.

"I heard and saw it all happen and I was very scared. My best friend, Jacob, was shot and died. That made me very sad," Ava shared in that letter to Trump. "I loved him and was going to marry him one day. I hate guns. One ruined my life and took my best friend."

Ava was so distraught after the shooting, she was diagnosed with PTSD, her mom said, and doctors recommended she be home-schooled. She began yanking out her own eyelashes, and using stickers to cover scary words in books, like "blood" and "guns" and "kill."

"She's still really struggling a lot emotionally. She's still very sad, very angry," Mary Olson said. "The worst days are pretty tough."

The 7-year-old explained some of her reasons for writing to the President.

"I wanted ... some people to keep kids safe, because my brother was at school, and I was afraid that something was going to happen to him," she said.

Next, Ava is scheduled to speak with her state's governor, a meeting Baldwin said is being taken very seriously.

The agenda for the session? "My ideas on how to keep kids safe," Ava said.

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