Officials will demolish US school building where 17 were killed in shooting

More than six years after 17 students and staff died in a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, the three-story building where the massacre took place is coming down, starting Friday.

The demolition will take several weeks. Officials plan its completion before the school’s 3,300 students return to the campus in August.

Heavy rain and flooding forced officials to postpone demolition by one day.

“The mechanical demolition involves dismantling the structure by pieces (not an implosion), beginning with the top floor. In preparation, crews cleaned and cleared the building, adhering to state and the Environmental Protection Agency’s landfill disposal regulations, and electronics were removed for proper handling. Additionally, survivors of the tragedy, families of victims, as well as teachers and staff had any items they desired returned to them,” Broward County’s school district posted on its website.

The building had stood as evidence while two trials took place: the 2022 penalty trial of the shooter and the 2023 trial of an on-campus deputy accused of child abuse for failing to confront the shooter.

Members of the victims’ families were invited to view the demolition, though they disagree on whether the building should be removed.

“I want the building gone,” Lori Alhadeff, whose 14-year-old daughter, Alyssa, was killed there, told The Associated Press.

FILE – A still image captured from a video shows students being evacuated from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School during a shooting in Parkland, Florida, Feb. 14, 2018. ( via Reuters)

Prior to the demolition, some of the victims’ parents led public officials on tours of the building, including Vice President Kamala Harris, members of Congress, police officers and about 500 other invitees. The tours highlighted how stronger safety measures — such as bullet-resistant glass and interior-locking doors — could have saved lives.

Max Schachter, who lost his 14-year-old son, Alex, in the shooting, told The Associated Press that each tour was “excruciatingly painful,” but that it was important to preserve the building to show how improved safety could save lives.

This is not the first time a building was removed after a mass school shooting. Columbine High School’s library was demolished after the 1999 shooting. Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut was torn down and replaced after the 2012 shooting. And in Uvalde, Texas, officials plan to demolish Robb Elementary, where a shooter killed 19 children and two teachers in 2022.

Broward’s school board has yet to decide what to use the space for. Teachers have proposed a practice field for the band and Junior ROTC, as several of the students killed were involved in those activities.

During the shooter’s 2022 penalty trial, jurors viewed the building and were warned it would be difficult to witness. At least one juror left the building crying.

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