A man's story of the moment he nearly shot his classmates when he was 14 is being shared by thousands of people online.
In the post Daniel Riley shared on Facebook on Friday, he said he almost pulled the trigger two decades ago because he had access to guns as an angry teenager — and not because he was mentally ill.
In the wake of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, which left 17 people dead, many have pointed out that alleged gunman, Nikolas Cruz, suffered from a mental illness.
But Riley, who grew up in a house where they kept guns, argued in his Facebook post that it was access to the weapons that caused him to nearly shoot his classmates.
“I think it’s easy to use mental illness as a deflection and then the moment when people aren’t paying attention, they stop talking about mental illness,” Riley told InsideEdition.com. “If everyone who ever pulled a trigger was mentally ill, we wouldn’t have so many people sitting in prison.”
His post has gone viral with nearly 50,000 shares.
Warning: This post contains strong language
Riley said that he was incessantly bullied at a high school in Washington State, where he was a straight-A student. After he stood up to a bully, he said a group of kids followed him home in retaliation.
“I start seeing all these older kids on the bus who I don’t recognize,” Riley said, “Then the kid who has been bullying me points at me and says ‘yeah, that’s him’ and then I realize all these older kids are on the bus because they are going to beat me up when I get home.”
Riley said he got off the bus and one of the kids pushed him.
“I got up and kept walking and they were circling around me, yelling things,” Riley said. “I got home, put my key in the lock, opened the door, went inside.”
But according to Riley, once the kids realized there were no parents home, they began banging on doors and windows.
That’s when the then 14-year-old decided to get a shotgun, Riley said.
“I got the gun out of the closet. I checked to see if it was loaded. I took off the safety, chambered a shell. I stuffed a couple of other shells in my pocket,” Riley said. “There are a couple of kids outside of the front door, yelling at me to come out.”
“I had the gun held up to the door thinking, 'I will shoot through the door then I’ll throw the door open and just start shooting kids as they are running away.' I was just about to do that and pull the trigger when someone yelled, 'There is a car coming!'” Riley added.
The kids scattered and Riley never pulled the trigger. But, he says in his Facebook post, he could have.
Riley, who now lives in Arizona, said he often thinks about how his life and the lives of those children would be different if he had pulled the trigger. He now owns four guns and said he didn't need a background check to get them.
"That's outrageous," he said.
He said he’s glad the students who attend Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School are fighting for gun reform, and he said he's sharing his story so that people understand the scope of the problem.
"I am not typing any of this to glorify my behavior," he wrote in his post. "I'm explaining what I did, so you will understand that the gun problem in America is not a mental health problem. I was not mentally ill. The problem is access to firearms."