UNITED STATES NEWS

Demolition of the Parkland classroom building where 17 died in 2018 shooting begins

Jun 13, 2024, 9:19 PM | Updated: Jun 14, 2024, 10:28 am

PARKLAND, Fla. (AP) — A large excavator stretched to the top floor of the three-story building where 17 people died in the 2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, punching its first hole Friday into the classroom where teacher Scott Beigel perished saving students.

Beginning a weekslong demolition, the excavator made a whiny, wrenching noise as it broke off concrete from the building, now no longer needed as evidence in the shooter’s trial. Some victims’ family members stood 100 yards (90 meters) away, holding up their cellphones to record the moment.

Linda Beigel Schulman, the geography teacher’s mother, was not among them — she stayed home in New York. She toured the building last year, seeing the comparative religion papers he was grading when the shooting began that Valentine’s Day still sitting on his desk. Beigel, who also coached cross-country, went into the hallway and herded students to safety in his classroom, doing that as the gunman approached until he was shot.

She’s glad the building is coming down, but had no desire to witness it.

“It was Scott’s happy place. He loved teaching there. He loved the kids, he loved everything about the school there. He loved coaching,” Beigel Schulman told The Associated Press. “And then it is probably the saddest place that could ever be for me. He thrived there and he died there.”

The victims’ families were invited to hammer off a piece of the building before the demolition began. Lori Alhadeff, whose 14-year-old daughter Alyssa died, was one who did, finding it cathartic.

“Hammering away at the building helped to release some of my pain,” said Alhadeff, who was elected to the Broward County school board after her daughter’s death on a pledge to improve campus safety. She is now its chair.

Officials plan to complete the demolition and cleanup before the school’s 3,300 students return in August from summer vacation — to protect the school’s other buildings, it wasn’t imploded. Most of the school’s current students were in elementary school when the shooting happened.

Since the shooting, the building has loomed over campus, locked behind a screened fence that blocked the bottom floor. It was kept up to serve as evidence at the shooter’s 2022 penalty trial. Jurors toured its bullet-pocked and blood-stained halls, but spared him a death sentence. He is serving a sentence of life without parole.

Over the last year, some victims’ relatives have led Vice President Kamala Harris, members of Congress, FBI Director Christopher Wray, school officials, police officers and other invitees from around the country on tours of the building. They mostly demonstrated how improved safety measures like bullet-resistant glass in door windows, a better alarm system and doors that lock from the inside could have saved lives.

Those who have taken the tour have called it gut-wrenching as something of a time capsule of Feb. 14, 2018. Textbooks and laptops sat open on desks, and wilted Valentine’s flowers, deflated balloons and abandoned teddy bears were scattered amid broken glass. Those objects were removed before demolition began.

Max Schachter, whose 14-year-old son Alex died, said Friday that he knows the tours he helped organize will save lives as officials take what they learned and use it to harden schools in their jurisdictions.

“You have to prioritize school safety because you can’t teach dead children,” he said.

The demolition’s start drew about two dozen spectators who stood just off campus, including Dylan Persaud, who was a student in 2018. He had been standing near the building when the shooting started, and lost seven long-time friends and Beigel, whose class he took. He was glad to see the building coming down.

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

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 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 alone in taking down a school building after a mass shooting. In Connecticut, Sandy Hook Elementary School was torn down after the 2012 shooting and replaced. In Texas, officials closed Robb Elementary in Uvalde after the 2022 shooting there and plan to demolish it. Colorado’s Columbine High had its library demolished after the 1999 shooting.

The Broward County school board has not decided what the building will be replaced with. Teachers suggested a practice field for the band, Junior ROTC and other groups, connected by a landscaped pathway to a nearby memorial that was erected a few years ago. Several of the students killed belonged to the band or Junior ROTC.

Alhadeff said the school district will put something there that is useful for future students — a sentiment Schachter and Beigel Schulman seconded.

“I want a place where kids can go and be happy, not a place where kids will go and remember and be sad,” Beigel Schulman said. “Nobody will ever forget what happened in that building. They can’t wipe it away. But they can replace with something that is good.”

United States News

South Central District Judge Bruce Romanick listens to arguments by attorneys during a hearing, Tue...

Associated Press

North Dakota judge will decide whether to throw out a challenge to the state’s abortion ban

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — Attorneys argued Tuesday over whether a North Dakota judge should toss a lawsuit challenging the state’s abortion ban, with the state saying the plaintiffs’ case rests on hypotheticals, and the plaintiffs saying key issues remain to be resolved at a scheduled trial. State District Judge Bruce Romanick said he will rule […]

14 minutes ago

Associated Press

Editorial Roundup: United States

Excerpts from recent editorials in the United States and abroad: July 22 The Washington Post on what Kamala Harris needs to do to win the election With President Biden’s exit from the race, Democrats are quickly coalescing around Vice President Harris. Too quickly, arguably: Both she and the country would be better served by a […]

25 minutes ago

Associated Press

A sentence change assures the man who killed ex-Saints star Smith gets credit for home incarceration

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A 25-year prison sentence for Cardell Hayes, the man who killed former New Orleans Saints start Will Smith in 2016, was reduced to 22 years and two months on Tuesday by a Louisiana judge who sought to give Hayes credit for the time he spent confined to his home before his […]

26 minutes ago

FILE - Montana Secretary of State Christi Jacobsen attends the summer conference of the National As...

Associated Press

Montana Supreme Court allows signatures of inactive voters to count on ballot petitions

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Montana’s Supreme Court on Tuesday said it would allow the signatures of inactive voters to count on petitions seeking to qualify constitutional initiatives for the November ballot, including one to protect abortion rights. District Court Judge Mike Menahan ruled last Tuesday that Secretary of State Christi Jacobsen’s office wrongly changed election […]

39 minutes ago

Associated Press

Alabama universities shutter DEI offices, open new programs, to comply with new state law

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — The three University of Alabama System campuses on Tuesday shuttered diversity, equity and inclusion offices— and opened new offices — to comply with a new Republican-backed law attempting to ban the programs on public college campuses in the state. The University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, along with the University of Alabama […]

1 hour ago

FILE - The Federal Trade Commission building is seen, Jan. 28, 2015, in Washington. The Federal Tra...

Associated Press

FTC orders 8 companies to provide information on ‘surveillance pricing’ practices

NEW YORK (AP) — The Federal Trade Commission has ordered information from eight companies that the agency says offer products and services that use personal data to set prices based on a shopper’s individual characteristics. In a Tuesday announcement, the FTC said it was seeking to better understand the “opaque market” of “surveillance pricing” products […]

2 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Sanderson Ford

3 storylines to get you revved up for the 2024 Arizona Cardinals

Arizona Cardinals training camp is just a couple weeks away starting on July 25, and Sanderson Ford is revved up and ready to go.

...

Sanderson Ford

3 new rides for 3 new road trips in Arizona

It's time for the Sanderson Ford Memorial Day sale with the Mighty Fine 69 Anniversary, as Sanderson Ford turned 69 years old in May.

...

Midwestern University

Midwestern University Clinics: transforming health care in the valley

Midwestern University, long a fixture of comprehensive health care education in the West Valley, is also a recognized leader in community health care.

Demolition of the Parkland classroom building where 17 died in 2018 shooting begins