Parkland's 1200 building will be torn down this week. Two grieving moms say it's long overdue.

"It's done nothing in the last six years but bring horror," one mom said.

June 13, 2024, 5:20 AM

For more than six years, the 1200 building at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School sat untouched like a time capsule, with its classrooms still filled with dried blood and students' strewn papers.

This week, the site of the Parkland, Florida, mass shooting will be torn down -- a move two grieving moms say is long overdue.

The demolition will start Friday, timed for immediately after the last day of school, which was on Monday, according to Broward County Public Schools. The demolition had been scheduled to begin Thursday but was delayed because of inclement weather.

Tyra Heman (R) a senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, is hugged by Rachael Buto in front of the school where 17 people that were killed on February 14, Feb. 19, 2018, in Parkland, Fla.
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Seventeen students and staff members were killed in the Feb. 14, 2018, massacre. Victims' families were permitted to go inside the 1200 building for the first time last summer, following the conclusion of the trials of gunman Nikolas Cruz, who was sentenced to life in prison, and former school officer Scot Peterson, who was acquitted of child neglect after he had allegedly retreated while students were being shot.

Victim Scott Beigel's mother, Linda Beigel Schulman, was adamant about going in the building -- and she said she was not prepared for what she saw.

"It was horrible," she told ABC News last year. "All the glass being shot out ... seeing the bullet holes in the walls."

PHOTO: Runners run past the memorial at Pine Trails Park in Parkland, Fla., Feb. 20, 2018.
Runners run past the memorial at Pine Trails Park in Parkland, Fla., Feb. 20, 2018. Members of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas cross country team organized a run to honor their fallen coach, Scott Beigel, and the 16 other victims of the school shooting.
Mike Stocker/Sun Sentinel/TNS via Getty Images

Beigel, a geography teacher and cross-country coach, was shot to death while ushering his students to safety in his third floor classroom.

Inside Beigel's room, Schulman saw her son's notes and his open laptop, covered in dust.

One year later, the images are just as vivid in her mind.

"I could draw Scott's room," Schulman told ABC News last week. "I see Scott's desk, I see as you walk into Scott's room where he was when he was murdered."

PHOTO: Linda Beigel Schulman is overcome with emotion as she talks to journalists about visiting the scene where her son and 16 others were killed in 2018 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., July 5, 2023.
Linda Beigel Schulman, mother of geography teacher and cross country coach Scott Beigel, is overcome with emotion as she talks to journalists about visiting the scene where her son and 16 others were killed in 2018 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., July 5, 2023.
Rebecca Blackwell/AP

As hard as it was to witness, Schulman said she's glad she did.

"I came out very different after the trial than I went in, and it took me awhile to process [the details the trial provided]. And going back into Scott's classroom was really the same," Schulman explained. "I was definitely not the same when I came out of there."

"It's just a body-shaking experience," she said. "That's where he worked and that was his happy place -- and that's where Scott was murdered."

Kristi Gilroy (R), hugs a young woman at a police check point near the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School where 17 people were killed by a gunman yesterday, Feb. 15, 2018, in Parkland, Fla.
Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Patricia Oliver, whose fun, athletic 17-year-old son Joaquin was among those killed, never stepped foot in the 1200 building. She said it'd be too painful.

"Walking through the area where he was found, surrounded by blood, that I can't handle -- I really can't handle it," she told ABC News last week.

The 1200 building at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., June 30, 2023.
Carline Jean/Sun Sentinel/TNS via Getty Image

Seeing "every single piece of evidence [at Cruz's trial], to me, was more than enough," Oliver said. "I need my well-being in the right place."

"I know more than enough of what happened to him -- and his absence is absolutely painful every single day," she added.

Mariana Rocha, holds her son Jackson as she observes a photo of her cousin Joaquin Oliver at a memorial on the fifth anniversary of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School mass shooting at Pine Trails Park, Feb. 14, 2023, in Parkland, Fla.
Saul Martinez/Getty Images

After the families' visits, politicians went to the 1200 building to see the bullet-ridden walls for themselves, including Vice President Kamala Harris and some members of Congress.

"It's important to see, unfortunately, what it looks like when a mass shooting comes to your high school," Rep. Jared Moskowitz, D-Fla., who graduated from Stoneman Douglas, said at the time. "Every backpack that was dropped, every shoe that fell off ... is exactly as it was on that very day."

Vice President Kamala Harris participates in a moment of silence at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School memorial in Parkland, Fla., March 23, 2024.
Drew Angerer/AFP via Getty Images

Schulman supported the tours and said witnessing the inside of that building should've been mandatory for lawmakers to help open their eyes to the realities of gun violence.

But, Oliver said, "I wasn't comfortable seeing they were using the building as an exhibition."

"This is not a circus," Oliver said. "It is a crime scene."

"Every parent reacts in a different way, and that doesn't mean it's good or bad," Oliver added. "I think everyone is carrying this emptiness, that, you don't know how to handle it. It's not for me to judge anyone."

Neither Oliver nor Schulman will go witness the demolition. But both mothers say it's overdue.

Oliver drives by the school frequently and she said it'll bring her relief to not have the "physical reminder."

Schulman lives in New York, but she said on each trip to Parkland, she feels nauseous passing by the building.

"I think it's a long time coming," Schulman said. "We can never forget -- we just don't need that."

PHOTO: The memorial in front of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School as teachers and staff are allowed to return to the school for the first time since the mass shooting on campus, Feb. 23, 2018, in Parkland, Fla.
Margarita Lasalle, the budget keeper, and Joellen Berman, Guidance Data Specialist, look on at the memorial in front of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School as teachers and staff are allowed to return to the school for the first time since the mass shooting on campus, Feb. 23, 2018, in Parkland, Fla.
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Demolition will likely take several weeks, and will involve dismantling the structure in pieces, starting with the top floor, the school district said.

"Survivors of the tragedy, families of victims, as well as teachers and staff had any items they desired returned to them," according to the district.

District officials have not revealed any future plans for the site.

Schulman said she hopes it'll be transformed into a place for students to have fun and laugh, like a baseball field.

"Something that brings joy. Because it's done nothing in the last six years but bring horror," Schulman said.

Oliver said she'd like the space to be filled with whatever would bring comfort and peace to current students, like a garden or patio.

The district said in a statement last month, "We understand this is a sensitive and difficult time for the families of those who were killed, those who were injured, and all of those who are forever impacted by the tragedy. ... We will continue to keep the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School community informed and updated as we navigate this process together."

In the wake of their tragedies, both moms are finding ways to honor their sons' lives.

Schulman and her husband started the Scott J. Beigel Memorial Fund, which sends at-risk kids touched by gun violence to camp.

"They can actually leave their cares behind -- they can just be kids," she said.

PHOTO: Manny Oliver, Patricia Oliver and David Hogg speak during March for Our Lives 2022, June 11, 2022, in Washington, D.C.
Manny Oliver, Patricia Oliver and David Hogg speak during March for Our Lives 2022, June 11, 2022, in Washington, D.C. Manny Oliver and Patricia Oliver lost their son, Joaquin Oliver, one of the 17 victims of the Parkland shooting.
Leigh Vogel/Getty Images

Oliver and her husband have become advocates for gun control through their organization Change the Ref.

Each summer, they ramp up their efforts with events honoring Joaquin's Aug. 4 birthday. This year, he would've turned 24.

Joaquin was always looking ahead, his mom said. Now, "he’s the one who pushes us," she said.

"We need to keep going, we need to keep fighting," she said.

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