It is the ultimate eyesore.
Driving by Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, you can’t miss it. The three-story building feels like a monument to tragedy.
“It’s like a knife in the heart, it’s very painful,” said Lori Alhadeff, a Broward School Board member who lost her daughter, Alyssa, in the 2018 mass shooting.
It’s called the 1200 building. Four and a half years after the massacre, it still stands on the campus, even though the community, the victims, and the Broward County Public School district all agree it should be demolished.
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“It’s very painful knowing that this is where my daughter was shot and killed in school, it’s painful for Alyssa’s two brothers who go to school there and walk by that building, to know where their sister was killed, so there’s a lot of horrific memories and things that happened in that building," Alhadeff said. "So once that building is demolished and gone, it’s one more step in the healing process."
The building was needed as evidence in the sentencing trial of the confessed killer, so as much as the families want it torn down, everyone understands why the wrecking ball has not yet arrived.
“The building is just one more reminder of where my daughter, Gina, and her classmates and teachers were murdered, however, it was important to have it available as the criminal process went on,” said Tony Montalto, co-founder of Stand With Parkland.
For teachers who survived the attack and still work at the school, having the building right there is another layer of psychological torture. Stacey Lippel was shot as she tried to usher her students to safety.
“I avoid it, I avoid driving by it, I avoid walking near it and I can’t wait for it to come down," Lippel said. "I know that a lot of teachers want some of their belongings out of that building but I can tell you there’s not one thing in there I ever want to see again."
The families know what they’d like to see in the building’s place.
“There needs to be an appropriate memorial built on campus to honor those that were lost that day," Montalto said. "We’re not commemorating the tragedy, that’s never anybody’s desire, a memorial is designed to remember those who were lost."
However, the building isn’t going anywhere in the near future. It’s needed as evidence in the upcoming trial of former deputy Scott Peterson. Alhadeff says the school district is ready to move as soon as the courts give permission. She’s hoping for demolition next summer.