Demolition Begins at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Building Where 17 Died in 2018 Shooting

A large excavator began demolishing the three-story building at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Friday, where 17 people died in the 2018 mass shooting. The machinery punched its first hole into the classroom where teacher Scott Beigel lost his life-saving students.

This demolition marks the beginning of a weeks-long process, as the building is no longer needed for evidence following the shooter’s trial. Some victims’ family members recorded the moment from a distance, while others, like Scott Beigel’s mother, Linda Beigel Schulman, chose not to attend, having already toured the site last year, according to MSN.

“It was Scott’s happy place. He loved teaching there. He loved the kids, he loved everything about the school,” 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.”

Victims’ families were invited to take a piece of the building before demolition. Lori Alhadeff, whose 14-year-old daughter Alyssa died in the shooting, found the experience 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 and now chairs it. reported by AP News.

Officials aim to complete the demolition and cleanup before the school’s 3,300 students return from summer vacation in August. To protect surrounding buildings, the structure was not imploded. Most current students were in elementary school at the time of the shooting.

Since the shooting, the building has stood locked behind a screened fence, preserved as evidence for the shooter’s 2022 penalty trial. Jurors toured its bullet-pocked and blood-stained halls but ultimately spared the shooter a death sentence. He is now serving life without parole.

Over the past year, victims’ relatives have led tours for Vice President Kamala Harris, members of Congress, FBI Director Christopher Wray, school officials, police officers, and other invitees, demonstrating improved safety measures like bullet-resistant glass, better alarm systems, and doors that lock from the inside.

Max Schachter, whose 14-year-old son Alex was killed, believes these tours will save lives as officials implement the lessons learned. “You have to prioritize school safety because you can’t teach dead children,” he said.

The demolition attracted about two dozen spectators, including Dylan Persaud, a student in 2018 who lost seven friends and teacher Scott Beigel. He was glad to see the building come down, saying, “It puts a period on the end of the story. They should put a nice memorial there for the 17.” according to The NY Post.

Joanne Wallace, a former special education teacher at the school, had mixed feelings watching the demolition but hoped it would bring some peace to the victims’ families.

Broward County is following in the footsteps of other communities that have demolished school buildings after mass shootings, such as Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut and Robb Elementary in Uvalde, Texas. The school board has yet to decide what will replace the demolished building, with suggestions including a practice field connected to a nearby memorial.

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