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The demolition of the Parkland classroom building where 17 people lost their lives in the 2018 shooting has started

Crews start the demolition (Via Nathan West/Shutterstock)

A large excavator reached the top floor of the three-story building where 17 people lost their lives in the 2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. On Friday, it punched its first hole into the classroom where teacher Scott Beigel died while protecting students.

The demolition, which will take several weeks, began with the excavator making a loud, wrenching noise as it removed concrete from the building. This building is no longer needed as evidence in the shooter’s trial. Some family members of the victims stood 100 yards away, recording the moment with their cellphones.

Linda Beigel Schulman, Scott Beigel’s mother and a geography teacher, chose not to attend. She stayed home in New York. Last year, she visited the building and saw her son’s papers on comparative religion still on his desk, exactly where he left them on Valentine’s Day when the shooting started. Beigel, who also coached cross-country, led students to safety in his classroom’s hallway as the gunman approached, continuing until he was shot.

Passersby watch as crew start the demolition (Via Nathan West/Shutterstock)

While Beigel Schulman is relieved the building is being demolished, she doesn’t want to witness its destruction.

“For me, it was Scott’s happy place. He loved teaching there, loved the kids, loved everything about the school, loved coaching,” Beigel Schulman said to The Associated Press. “And then it’s probably the saddest place that could ever be for me. He thrived there and he died there.”

Before the demolition started, families of the victims were invited to remove a piece of the building. Lori Alhadeff, whose 14-year-old daughter Alyssa died, took part in this process and found it to be a healing experience.

“Using the hammer on the building helped me let go of some of my pain,” said Alhadeff, who later joined the Broward County school board with a commitment to enhancing campus safety after her daughter’s death. She now serves as its chair.

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