As thousands of students returned to Marjory Stoneman Douglass High School for the first time since a gunman opened fire, one father grew emotional.
Students of the Parkland, Florida high school where a gunman took the lives of 17 students and adults during a Valentine’s Day shooting, returned to campus for the first time in nearly two weeks on Sunday to retrieve backpacks and other personal items that they were forced to leave behind during the shooting. The father of a 15-year-old student at the school grew emotional during the return.
“My son is so much stronger than I am,” the unnamed man told ABC News. “I am learning so much about how to handle this kind of stuff from my fifteen-year-old son.”
The students’ return comes in the wake of the Feb. 14 shooting during which confessed gunman Nikolas Cruz entered the freshmen building armed with an AR-15, several magazines of ammunition, a gas mask, and smoke grenades. He pulled the fire alarm before opening fire, killing 17 and injuring more than a dozen. Cruz has since been charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder.
The Broward County school district has proposed demolishing the three-story building where the shooting occurred.
“Parents and students have resoundingly told me they can’t go back into that building regardless of what we do,” Broward Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie explained. “The other piece I heard is that that building will be used as evidence in any type of legal process that goes forward, so we won’t be able to access the building for a while anyway.”
The building is currently cordoned off by chain-link fence that is decorated with banners of support from schools around the country.
As students return to classes for the first time on Wednesday, survivors are continuing to be outspoken about the need for stricter gun laws. Many have attended anti-gun rallies, traveled to the Florida state Capitol to speak with lawmakers about school safety, and planned multiple nationwide organized school walkouts.