WASHINGTON — The father of a teenager who was among 17 people killed when a gunman attacked Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, approached Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh at a confirmation hearing Tuesday, but failed in his attempt to shake the judge's hand.
Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter Jamie died in the Feb. 14 attack, approached Kavanaugh after he rose from the witness table for a lunch break. He put out his hand to Kavanaugh, who paused for a moment before turning away as a security guard stepped in. It was unclear if Kavanaugh heard what Guttenberg was saying.
Afterward, Guttenberg tweeted that Kavanaugh "pulled his hand back, turned his back to me and walked away. I guess he did not want to deal with the reality of gun violence."
White House spokesman Raj Shah took a different view, saying security intervened before Kavanaugh could shake the hand of the "unidentified individual." He shared a video clip of the moment, saying it showed that "as the Judge was leaving and had already turned away and begun walking, security intervened and ushered the Judge away."
Fred Guttenberg pushed back on Twitter, saying: "Incorrect. I was here all day and introduced by Senator Feinstein. No security involved. He turned and walked away."
That's the same impression that Guttenberg's brother, Paul, of Commack, got from the incident. Paul Guttenberg, who had text messaged with his brother about the incident, said it is further evidence that the judge, who was tapped to join the high court by President Donald Trump, refuses to discuss gun violence.
"It just showed again and again and again, whether it’s President Trump or people he’s appointing to the Supreme Court, they don’t want talk about gun safety," Paul Guttenberg said Wednesday evening. "They have no interest in supporting any change and, even if they say they do, that’s not what shows. . . . What we observed today with that handshake was shameful. I have other words, but it was shameful.
Paul Guttenberg said that after his brother was introduced by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), he remained standing throughout the hearing specifically to be visible . Paul Guttenberg reasoned that Kavanaugh must have known know who Guttenberg was.
After the encounter, Capitol Police spoke with Guttenberg. He again sat in the hearing room for the afternoon session.
The Feb. 14 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School left 17 students and teachers dead.
"One of the reasons he went up to the judge was because he had his family there," Paul Guttenberg said. "He wanted to go shake his hand as a father to a father."