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People watch as crews begin to demolish the building where seventeen people were killed during the 2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on June 14, 2024. Seventeen people were killed and another seventeen were injured after a 19-year-old former student opened fire at the school on February 14, 2018. (Photo by GIORGIO VIERA/AFP via Getty Images)

OAN’s James Meyers
12:00 PM – Friday, June 14, 2024

After six years, a building at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, where a gunman killed 17 people, is now being torn down.

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The demolition of the 1200 building began on Friday morning, with an excavator tearing into the top floor of the three-story building under a clear sky. Some family members of the victims watched and had tears in their eyes.

It is expected to take several weeks to complete, according to the Broward County Public Schools district. It will be completely eviscerated in pieces, starting from the top and going down to the bottom. 

“This building has been a symbol – a symbol of failure. I know many in the community are happy to see it go,” said Tony Montalto, who lost his 14-year-old daughter, Gina. 

“As for me, I’m concerned because we haven’t seen a solid plan yet for what’s going to replace this building. We need something that’s going to reflect the ones who were taken from us, the people they were before the tragedy.”

The district said in May that the demolition would take place in summer 2024 following the end of the school year, which was Monday. The demolition was initially set to begin Thursday, but was delayed due to days of torrential flooding rain in South Florida. 

The shooting ripped apart 17 families, including 14 students and three faculty members, on Valentine’s day back in 2018. Seventeen others were also badly injured. The gunman was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. 

“This is one more step in our healing process,” Lori Alhadeff, whose 14-year-old daughter, Alyssa, was killed at the school, told CNN Friday.

“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.”

Alhadeff founded the nonprofit organization “Make Our Schools Safe,” which further promotes school safety measures. Alyssa’s Law, which requires that public elementary and secondary school buildings be equipped with silent panic alarms in order to discreetly notify law enforcement, is on the books in six states.

“We know that time equals life,” said Alhadeff, noting that legislators who toured the building – “seeing the blood on the ground, the glass on the floor, the horror” – were moved to action.

Joanne Wallace, a former special education teacher at the school, had mixed feelings watching the building’s demolition, she thought the tours were helpful, but expressed that she knows the building’s existence brought painful memories to the victims’ families. 

“I hope this gives the families a bit of peace and comfort,” Wallace said. When the shooting started, she had been in the parking lot helping her students wait for their parents at the end of the school day.

Broward County is not the only one demolishing a building after a mass shooting.

In Connecticut, Sandy Hook Elementary School was torn down after the 2012 shooting and replaced. Additionally, in Texas, officials closed Robb Elementary in Uvalde after its 2022 shooting. Colorado’s Columbine High School had its library demolished after its 1999 shooting. 

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