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    Site of Parkland school shooting, where 17 were murdered in 2018, to be demolished

    By Guardian staff and agency,

    29 days ago
    A memorial of flowers and colorful stones in front of Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school on the first anniversary of the shooting. Photograph: Miami Herald/TNS/Getty Images

    Crews plan to start tearing down the building at Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school on Friday where 17 people were murdered in the 2018 mass shooting in Parkland, Florida.

    Families of the victims have been invited to witness the start of the demolition and collect pieces of the building to keep for themselves as a marker of the tragedy if they choose.

    The school’s 3,300 students are on summer break and officials plan to complete the destruction of the three-story classroom building, which will take weeks, before the class’s return from vacation in August.

    Most of the students were in elementary school when the shooting happened on 14 February as children were busy exchanging Valentine’s Day cards and messages when a gunman, a former student, arrived heavily armed and began killing.

    The building had been kept up to serve as evidence at the shooter’s 2022 penalty trial. Jurors toured its bullet-pocked and blood-stained halls. The jury spared Nikolas Cruz, now 25, from the death sentence because they couldn’t reach unanimity as required by law in Florida. He was sentenced to a life term for each of the people he murdered and is serving life without parole.

    Broward county, where Parkland is located, 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 there in which 20 children aged six and seven and six adults were killed, and the building replaced.

    Related: It’s 25 years since Columbine. This is why I can’t leave the story behind

    Students who survived that shooting graduated from high school earlier this week with many calling for more gun control in the US.

    And in Texas, officials closed Robb elementary school in Uvalde after the 2022 shooting there and plan to demolish it. Colorado’s Columbine high school had its library demolished after the 1999 shooting.

    In Parkland over the last year, some victims’ relatives have led Kamala Harris, members of Congress, school officials, police officers and about 500 other invitees from around the country on tours of the building, demonstrating how improved safety measures could have saved lives.

    Those who have taken the tour have called it gut-wrenching and something of a tragic time capsule of the day of the massacre. Textbooks and laptops sat open on desks, and wilted Valentine’s Day flowers, deflated balloons and abandoned teddy bears were scattered amid broken glass. Those objects have now been removed.

    The Associated Press contributed reporting

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