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Kamala Harris tours Florida's blood-stained Parkland school building

The Vice President visited Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School to talk with relatives of some of the 17 murder victims.
Kamala Harris to tour blood-stained school of 2018 Florida shooting
Posted at 10:49 AM, Mar 23, 2024
and last updated 2024-03-23 18:37:28-04

As the Biden administration's efforts to reduce gun violence in the U.S., Vice President Kamala Harris visited Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida — the site of the 2018 mass shooting where 17 people were murdered. 

Vice President Harris used the visit to pay respects, but also to focus on how the administration plans to address gun violence, meeting with ten families of victims on Saturday; she walked through the halls and classrooms of the school. 

Just before 4 p.m. ET Vice President Harris went into the school's gym, and then was led into the freshman building where the shooting took place — it had been preserved since Feb. 14th, 2018. The building is scheduled to be demolished this year, according to Broward Schools

"This school is soon going to be torn down but the memory of it will never be erased," the vice president said. 

Family members held up photos of their loved ones on Saturday during Vice President Harris' visit. 

"I do believe we have a duty to remember and to bear witness to what happened here. It is extraordinarily tragic," the vice president said. "These were beautiful people who I've come to know through their family members. They are so much bigger and more than statistics. They should be so much bigger and more than subjects to politics or gamesmanship."

The vice president noted that the desks in one area were still in the same configuration as they were on the day of the shooting.

"What I saw then here after, I spent time with the families during the walk through of the building where these crimes occurred, is a moment frozen in time," she said. "We must do better."

During the penalty phase of the trial for the shooter, the jury was taken to view the school. A small group of journalists were allowed to walk through the campus as part of the trial's proceedings. Descriptions at the time indicated pieces of a normal school day, like notes and dry erase board writings — things that were left in place among the bullet holes and blood stains. Court TV is among the press who have visited

Those visiting the school with the vice president Saturday included U.S. Representative Jared Moskowitz, State Attorney Harold Pryor, and members of the Broward County State Attorney's Office, the White House said.

SEE MORE: School building where Parkland massacre happened will be demolished

Vice President Harris announced the launch of a new resource center focused on the implementation of red flag laws called the National Extreme Risk Protection Order Resource Center. The White House said it would be the first of its kind. 

The Biden administration called on states to pass and implement legislation, including red flag laws, and urged the use of federal funds — including $750 million — for state crisis intervention programs.

"Part of why I'm here today is to challenge every state to pass a red flag law," Vice President Harris said during Saturday's visit in Parkland. 

Combating gun violence has been one of the top priorities expressed by the Biden administration. Last year the White House announced the creation of the Office on Gun Violence Prevention which would be overseen by Vice President Harris as part of the administration's work to reduce gun violence. 

President Joe Biden has called on Congress to commit to further action to find a way to lessen gun violence across the country, including a push to try and ban assault weapons and high capacity magazines; also by passing universal background checks.

The 17 people killed at the school include, Alyssa Alhadeff, Scott Beigel, Martin Duque, Nicholas Dworet, Aaron Feis, Jaime Guttenberg, Athletic Director Chris Hixon, Luke Hoyer, Cara Loughran, Gina Montalto, Joaquin Oliver, Alaina Petty, Meadow Pollack, Helena Ramsay, Alex Schachter, Carmen Schentrup and Peter Wang. 

Each of their families told of how they were great siblings; sons and daughters, some mothers and fathers. Their families loved them deeply and still advocate for measures to quell gun violence in the United States so that other families don't have to experience the same grief and pain.

A memorial for the victims of Parkland stands as a low brick wall in a half circle with photos of each of the 14 students and three staff members killed that day. There is writing under the photos and a rose placed beneath. Four benches are in the garden area between the schools buildings. 

On Saturday, Vice President Harris was silent as she stopped at each photo to pay respects. 

In 2022, Lori Jane Gliha reported on federal funds that were expected at the time to be used to pass red flag laws, and how states were dealing with gun violence. 

In Denver, police used Colorado's red flag laws to prohibit potentially dangerous individuals from gaining possession of firearms. Under the state's law, a judge can grant an Extreme Risk Protection Order to temporarily block possession of firearms if the judge believes a person poses a danger to themselves or others.


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