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Ahead of jurors’ tour of Building 12, documentary and witness testimony piece together Parkland gunman’s rampage

PARKLAND, FLA. – As jurors prepare to tour the building where the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School unfolded, witness testimony and a documentary released months after the tragedy provide a vivid portrait of the massacre that claimed 17 lives.

Students at Building 12 on the campus, also known as the freshman building, were about to go home on the afternoon of Feb. 14, 2018.

In the 2018 documentary “Parkland: Inside Building 12,” filmmaker Charlie Minn mapped out what happened next.

A witness interviewed for the film described festive decorations in the hallways.

“It was a happy day, because it was Valentine’s Day. Kids were bringing in candy, flowers, stuffed animals,” she said.

Building 12, located on the north side of campus, was about to empty onto Holmberg and Pine Island roads.

But, all of a sudden, a piercing fire alarm and deafening bangs rang out.

What the students and faculty did not know was that the gunman had slipped into the building armed with a powerful rifle.

The shooter told a student things were about to go bad, then he began firing on the first floor.

Jurors at the penalty trial currently underway have heard descriptions of what unfolded during the next six minutes. On Thursday, they will have an opportunity to walk the halls and see for themselves how it looked that Valentine’s Day.

The horror has been frozen in time in the locked building.

Jurors have already heard the sounds from a cellphone recording that day.

Investigators later traced the killer’s steps. A graphic showed his position as a black dot. His victims were represented with green dots.

The gunman killed three students as he made his way down the first floor hallway before he took aim inside classrooms.

He used the barrel of the rifle to break the glass window of the door of Ivy Schamis’ classroom.

Schamis took the stand during the penalty trial.

“There was just shooting everywhere. It was extremely loud. It was very frightening, and I kept thinking about these kids who should not be experiencing this,” she said.

Several more students died on the first floor before the shooter headed to the third floor.

Teachers on the third floor had reacted to the fire alarm by sending students into the hallway.

Once the gunman was spotted, everyone started to run, as teachers herded as many students as possible into classrooms.

“What exactly the teachers did, I mean, heroism to the highest level,” said Minn. “Incredible job by these schoolteachers.”

But still, others would die in the hallway and in classrooms.

One survivor was heard calling for help. It was Anthony Borges, who lived to appear in court years later to testify and show jurors his scars.

Students were seen emerging from behind a desk, then running into a hallway. Survivors passed the bodies of their classmates, the blood and the book bags, before they sprinted out of the building.

“I can’t say enough about the guts of the kids, their escapability, how they were able to get away from the killer,” said Minn.

Building 12, where investigators tracked a killer’s movements and students hid, ran, survived or lost their lives, remains surrounded by a gate. The dried blood, bullet holes and dust from the shaken ceiling tiles are all untouched.

Investigators said a Valentine’s Day stuffed animal was found next to a victim’s body.

Jurors are expected to begin touring the building on Thursday morning under heavy security.

Alfred Duncan

Alfred Duncan is a senior editor at The South Florida Daily, where he oversees our coverage of politics, misinformation, health and economics. Alfred is a former reporter and editor for BuzzFeed News, National Geographic and USA Today.

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