Demolition Parkland building
Alicia Civita

PARKLAND - Six years and four months after the tragic school shooting in South Florida shook the nation, the demolition of the building where the massacre occurred, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, started on Friday.

The process will take several weeks, as the demolition of Building 1200 is being carried out mechanically. It will cost approximately $339,000, according to a spokesperson from the Broward School District.

The dual goal is to eliminate the constant reminder for the families of the victims, the students, and the community of the massacre, and to avoid causing damage to the rest of the nearby school buildings.

As concrete fell from the walls to the ground, the memories of the February 14, 2018 Parkland tragedy, came flooding back. On that fateful day, a former student shot and killed 17 people and wounded 17 others inside that building. The structure has remained untouched since then, preserved as evidence while the homicide case made its way through the courts.

The demolition in Parkland

The beginning of the demolition was witnessed by some of the victims' families, school staff, students, and elected officials. For many, it was a long-awaited moment, a step towards healing from the constant reminder of the tragedy that the building represented. During the day, there was a trickled down presence of mourners.

Marjorie Stoneman Douglas building 1200 being demolished
Marjorie Stoneman Douglas building 1200 being demolished Alicia Civita

The three-story structure, enclosed by a mesh fence, has stood as a haunting memorial. It had not been torn down earlier because it was used as evidence in the 2022 trial of the shooter.

"It has taken too long. We don't need a reminder. The pain is constant and the trauma is alive," Yelitza Martínez, the mother of a junior high school student who spent five hours inside a closet in that building on the day told the Latin Times .

Clark Mathews, a Parkland neighbor, showed up to pay his respects. "That building was a trigger for the families and all the kids and parents touched by the tragedy," he said.

The work of the excavators is painstakingly slow. Four hours into the demolition process, only half of one exterior wall had been dismantled. The agonizing noise of the structure being torn down, reminiscent of a rusty hinge amplified millions of times, sent chills through the onlookers. Many arrived in the morning to pay their respects to the victims, each sound of the machinery a poignant reminder of the past.

Authorities plan to complete the demolition project before the 3,300 students return in August after the summer break. The careful, piece-by-piece dismantling is aimed at preventing damage to nearby structures.

The demolition of Building 1200 is not just the removal of a physical structure; it symbolizes a step towards healing for a community forever scarred by an unspeakable tragedy. As the building comes down, it marks the end of a painful chapter and the beginning of a new one for the students, staff, families, and the entire Parkland community.

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