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


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.

[livemarket market_name="KONK Life LiveMarket" limit=3 category=“” show_signup=0 show_more=0]