(WASHINGTON) — Six members of Congress — five Democrats and one Republican — visited Parkland, Florida, on Monday to tour the site of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School mass shooting.
Seventeen students and staff were killed in the Feb. 14, 2018, massacre. The school’s 1200 building has since sat untouched like a time capsule, with blood stains, bullet holes and students’ strewn papers still inside the hallways and classrooms.
Rep. Jared Moskowitz, D-Fla., who graduated from Stoneman Douglas and is now advocating for gun reform like red flag laws, brought colleagues to the school Monday for the final tour before the 1200 building is demolished.
“It’s important to see, unfortunately, what it looks like when a mass shooting comes to your high school,” Moskowitz told reporters. “Every backpack that was dropped, every shoe that fell off … is exactly as it was on that very day.”
Victims’ families and lawmakers were first permitted to go inside the 1200 building this summer, once trials had concluded for gunman Nikolas Cruz, who last year was sentenced to life in prison, and former school officer Scot Peterson, who in June 2023 was acquitted of child neglect after he had allegedly retreated while students were being shot.
Max Schachter, whose 14-year-old son, Alex, was killed in his first floor classroom, told ABC News this summer that his son’s classroom “was like a horror scene from a war zone.”
“It was grotesque,” he said. “There was so much blood everywhere, especially around Alex’s desk.”
On the classroom floor, Schachter found a paper Alex had written and he took it with him.
“There was blood stains all over it, but I wanted it,” he said. “It was my little boy’s.”
Fred Guttenberg, whose 14-year-old daughter, Jaime, was killed at Parkland, said he and Schachter helped plan Monday’s tour so politicians could “see the types of truly American issues that they will be asked to do something about.”
“I hope those that attend today leave forever changed. I hope that those who attend today will have a better understanding of why the work that they do to enhance school safety and reduce gun violence matters,” Guttenberg wrote on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, Monday morning. “I hope that those who attend today will go back to Washington DC with a renewed energy to save lives.”
Reps. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., and Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Pa., both vowed to work to protect schools in the wake of their visit on Monday.
Guttenberg criticized Florida’s Republican senators for not attending the tour, writing, “I will do everything I can to make sure that you are fired from office as your lack of interest in stopping the next [mass shooting] is now clear. … I will do everything I can over this next year to elect Representatives and Senators who understand that seeing this scene was important and who are committed to school safety and reducing gun violence going forward.”
The offices of Sens. Rick Scott and Marco Rubio could not be immediately reached for comment.
The 1200 building is set to be demolished in the summer of 2024 after the end of the school year.
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