Dead Valentine roses and dried blood greeted jurors Thursday as the panel debating the fate of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooter toured the Parkland, Florida, school where 14 students and three staff members were killed on Valentine’s Day in 2018.
The panel will decide if Nikolas Cruz, who did not accompany the 12 jurors and 10 alternates, will receive the death penalty or life in prison, as CBS News reported.
Although the rules of the tour precluded talking and jurors from speaking to the media, a pool of reporters were allowed to take a 30-minute tour separately from the jurors.
The following reports discuss graphic images of what remained inside the building and may be disturbing for some readers.
In a video, Joan Murray of WFOR-TV in Miami summed up her thoughts on what she felt as she toured a school that has remained unchanged since the day of the massacre — except for the removal of the dead and some personal effects.
“You feel the spirit of these people and the terror, what it must’ve been like being trapped in those classrooms, especially those poor students trapped in the hallway. And, to see the stains, the bullet holes in the wall in a corner, and how they must’ve been cowering. They fought for their life,” she said.
“It was really frozen in time,” Murray said, the CBS report noted.
The CBS report went into detail: “The sight was deeply unsettling: Large pools of dried blood still stained classroom floors. A lock of dark hair rested on the floor where one of the victims’ bodies once lay. A single black rubber shoe was in a hallway. Browned rose petals were strewn across a hallway where six people died.”
“Bullet holes pocked walls, and shards of glass from windows shattered by gunfire crunched underfoot,” the CBS report said.
CNN posted a collection of reporters’ notes.
“We entered from the east stairwell just as Cruz did. In the stairwell where Cruz entered and assembled his gun, a stuffed white teddy bear lay dirtied on the floor next to a bag with Valentine’s hearts on it, probably dropped by a fleeing student,” the report said.
In one classroom, the report noted, “Essays written by the students remain on their desks, never to be recovered. ‘We go to school every day of the week and we take it all for granted,’ one student wrote. ‘We cry and complain without knowing how lucky we are to be able to learn.’”
“Moving down the hallway, dry, cracked rose petals mixed with the glass shards lend a cinematic feel to the scene. There’s a large pool of blood in the middle of the third-floor hallway,” the CNN report read.
“The blood in the hallway is something that I would never wish on people to have to see,” said South Florida Sun-Sentinel reporter Rafael Olmeda said, according to The Washington Post.
“It was disturbing on a number of levels,” Olmeda said. “What we saw was the end result of children who are in the middle of an average day having a wonderful time, and all of a sudden, a nightmare erupts.”
“Throughout the hall, there were rose petals on the floor. There were cards on desks. There were some balloons that had deflated,” Spencer said.
“There was one bag, a pink Valentine’s bag, and there was a rose that was just wilted sitting on the top of it. On the floor where one of the bodies had laid, a handmade Valentine’s card had been cut out of construction paper. Part of it had been worn away from the blood that was on the floor,” Spencer said.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.