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Demolition begins at site of 2018 Parkland school mass shooting

By Doug Cunningham & Allen Cone
Demolition began Friday on the Parkland, Florida Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School building where 14 students and 3 teachers were killed Valentine's Day, 2018. At a makeshift memorial parents hug on February 14, 2019. Photo by Gary Rothstein/UP4
1 of 3 | Demolition began Friday on the Parkland, Florida Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School building where 14 students and 3 teachers were killed Valentine's Day, 2018. At a makeshift memorial parents hug on February 14, 2019. Photo by Gary Rothstein/UP4 | License Photo

June 14 (UPI) -- Demolition began Friday of a building at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., six years after 17 people died in a mass shooting.

Broward County Public Schools said mechanical demolition of building 1200 at the school will be conducted by dismantling pieces of the building, not an implosion. It was known as the freshman building.

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Officials plan to complete the project before the school's 3,500 students return in August from summer vacation.

"The demolition of the building where my daughter Gina and so many others lost their lives is a necessary part of moving forward. Tearing down the 1200 building at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School will not erase the fact that the worst high school shooting in U.S. history occurred here," Tony Montalto, president of Stand With Parkland, said in a statement to USA Today. "Seventeen beautiful lives were tragically taken because a multitude of simple school safety procedures were not prioritized."

A large excavator stretched to the top of the three-story classroom where the students and staff members died.

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Several family members stood about 100 yards away in the school's parking lot.

The demolition was initially scheduled to begin on Thursday but was postponed due to heavy rain and flooding in South Florida.

U.S. Rep. Jared Moskowitz, an alumnus of the school, said in a statement Friday: "I never thought I'd see the high school where I graduated from turned into a war zone. What I've seen in that building is truly haunting - windows with bullet holes, homework scattered everywhere, blood in the hallway," Moskowitz said. "The people of Parkland will no longer have to pass by this horrific reminder of our grief. The families of those innocent lives taken that day will never be able to move on, just move forward."

The building has gone unused for classes since the gunman's murderous attack that killed 14 students and three faculty members on Feb. 4, 2018.

Shooting survivors and their families who were allowed to privately tour the building in 2023 described blood stains where victims were killed, bullet holes and Valentine's candy on student desks in a haunting and horrific frozen-in-time crime scene.

It was preserved pending the trials of the shooter and of former school resource officer Scot Peterson. Nikolas Cruz was sentenced life in prison without parole in the shooting.

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Peterson was charged after remaining outside the school during the killings but was acquitted on all counts against him alleging wrongdoing.

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