The eight young girls wore white for Alyssa Alhadeff's 15th birthday, and like others, they likely brought small gifts to leave at her grave.
Their faces – anguished, contemplative, defiant – were captured in a photograph by the Sun Sentinel newspaper for a story about the headstone dedication for Alhadeff, one of 17 people killed by a gunman in the Parkland school massacre on Feb 14.
The photo ran on Wednesday's front page, a few inches above a bright yellow advertisement and coupon for an upcoming gun show at Fort Lauderdale – including a graphic of a Glock semiautomatic handgun.
The placement of the two images, as well as another story on the front page about the life sentence of the Fort Lauderdale airport gunman who killed five people in 2017, sparked condemnation on social media and drew a sharp rebuke from the father of another Parkland victim.
"Looks like the Sun Sentinel editor on this page failed. A story on the victims of gun violence and they put a gun coupon on the page. WTF!!!," said Fred Guttenberg, father of slain student Jaime Guttenberg, in a Wednesday tweet.
He included a photo of Wednesday's Sun Sentinel, the main newspaper of Parkland's Broward County. Guttenberg did not immediately return a request for comment.
South Florida Sun Sentinel publisher Nancy Meyer released a statement Wednesday morning, apologizing for the layout of the page and announcing a moratorium on advertisements for firearms in the paper.
"We deeply regret placement of a gun advertisement on our front page Wednesday morning. It is against our policy to run gun and other types of controversial advertising on our front page," Meyer said. "We understand how the juxtaposition of certain ads and news stories can appear extremely insensitive, and we failed to prevent such a juxtaposition today."
Students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School also seized on the incident. "This is a terrible but revealing look at the gun culture the NRA is promoting in our country," Cameron Kasky wrote. "This is cruel."
The paper's social media team has proactively sent additional messages on Twitter to Guttenberg, Kasky and others using similar language. "Our long-standing policy against these kinds of ads on our front page failed today. We've addressed this to ensure it doesn't happen again," the paper wrote in response to Kasky on Twitter. "We remain deeply committed to covering the struggles faced by victims and our community affected by this tragedy."
Mourners on Tuesday left stones and other gifts on the headstone, along with dozens of roses, the paper reported. Also included: a US Soccer jersey with "Alhadeff" sewn on the back for the girl who loved sports.
Alyssa's best friend, Abigail Price, also shared the May 1 birthday, the paper reported. A group of friends gathered at a favorite beach spot nearby to celebrate.
"(Having the party on the beach) brings back a lot of happy memories," Price told the paper. "It's nice to celebrate it."