Families of those killed in the Parkland school shooting can tour the site starting today
Jul 5, 2023, 6:50 AM
(Photo credit should read RHONA WISE/AFP via Getty Images)
(CNN) — Some families of those killed in the 2018 massacre at a Parkland, Florida, high school will get to visit the site beginning Wednesday, the Broward County state attorney’s office said.
At their request, some families and surviving victims will be given private, individual tours inside the 1200 building at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, the office said. The building was the scene of the deadliest US high school shooting, in which 17 people, including 14 students, were killed and 17 others were injured on Valentine’s Day.
Gena and Tom Hoyer, the parents of slain student Luke Hoyer, plan to go, said their attorney David Brill.
“As Gena compellingly put it: ‘It’s going to be agony, but I need to go where my sweet Lukey Bear took his last breath and went to heaven. I brought him into this world and as a mom, I need to be where he left it,’” Brill said in an email to CNN.
The three-story building has been preserved pending two trials connected to the February 14, 2018, shooting, which ignited a wave of student-led protests against America’s scourge of school shootings – a scourge that continues. About 200 shootings have happened at K-12 campuses since the Parkland killings, according to a CNN tally.
Jurors in the death penalty trial of the gunman toured the building last year, followed by a group of reporters who described a scene stuck in time: Valentine’s Day gifts and cards, students’ notes and assignments were left behind, and the reporters saw bloodstains and bullet holes. Fragments of broken glass crunched beneath the reporters’ feet, they said.
The second trial concluded last week, when a jury acquitted Scot Peterson, the school resource officer who stayed outside during the attack, of felony child neglect, culpable negligence and perjury. Peterson’s defense attorney wanted jurors to see the exterior of the building, while prosecutors wanted them to see both the outside and inside.
The judge decided against sending jurors.
Prosecutors, law enforcement officers and victim advocates will conduct the tours. It has been preserved since the shooting, the state attorney’s office said.
Public access will not be allowed during the visits, which are expected to be conducted over a couple of weeks.
After the tours are completed, the building will be returned to Broward County Public Schools, which will handle the “process for all of the other staff members and former students who were present on the day of the mass shooting,” the state attorney’s office said.
The-CNN-Wire™ & © 2023 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.