Parkland school building demolition begins 6 years after mass shooting

PARKLAND, Fla. — A crew began work Friday to demolish the building where a former student killed 17 people and injured 17 others in 2018 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

Families of victims, former students and school staff members gathered to watch a massive yellow excavator begin the work around 8:25 a.m., punching into the corner window on the building’s top floor, according to The Associated Press and the Miami Herald.

The process is expected to take weeks to finish, CNN reported.

“I’d like to see it gone,” Dylan Persaud, who was a student at the high school in 2018, told the AP. He lost seven long-time friends and his teacher, Scott Beigel, in the shooting.

“It puts a period on the end of the story,” he said. “They should put a nice memorial there for the 17.”

The 1200 building remained standing in the years after the shooting pending the trials of the gunman and a school resource officer who stayed outside during the shooting, according to CNN.

Politicians including Vice President Kamala Harris, school officials, police officers and more have toured the building with the relatives of victims, the AP reported. The news agency described the building as a “time capsule” that has stood still since the shooting, with textbooks and laptops still open on desks and wilted Valentine’s Day flowers, deflated balloons and teddy bears left abandoned.

Officials continue to consider what might replace the building. Lori Alhadeff, whose 14-year-old daughter, Alyssa, was killed in the shooting, told CNN that she hopes the area will be turned into “usable space” which she imagined as “MSD Memorial Field.”

“This is one more step in our healing process,” Alhadeff, ,who founded the nonprofit Make Our Schools Safe to promote school safety, told the news network.

“And it’s important that… six years later, that this building comes down and my family, you know, we’re grieving the death of our daughter, Alyssa. We’re healing but we’re also trying to make change.”

Tony Montalto, whose 14-year-old daughter Gina was killed in the shooting, said in a statement obtained by the AP that the demolition is “a necessary part of moving forward.”

“While we can never erase the pain and the memories, we can create a space that honors their legacy and fosters hope for a safer future,” he said. “That’s why we fight every day to pass meaningful legislation that keeps our family members safe in their school.”

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