3/6/18, Parkland, Florida A memorial honoring the victims of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting are left at the Pine Trails Park in Parkland, Florida on March 6, 2018. Gabriella Demczuk / TIME
Gabriella Demczuk for TIME

Revisiting Parkland

The crowds are gone and the memorial flowers have withered, but the students remain emboldened
March 14, 2018

One month ago, Parkland, Fla., was shattered when a gunman stormed Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and murdered 17 students and teachers.

The Valentine’s Day shooting spurred a national debate on gun violence and turned a group of ordinary teenagers into prominent activists. On the day of the massacre, “I was worried about doing an assignment that was due and three tests scheduled,“ recalls 17-year-old student Brandon Abzug. “Now I’m focused on changing the gun laws in the country.”

In the aftermath of the tragedy, journalists and law-enforcement officers swarmed Parkland, which had been named one of Florida’s safest cities just last year. Well-wishers hung sunflowers and roses from fences and created vigils and memorials.

 

17 crosses were placed at Pine Trails Park in Parkland before the candlelight vigil memorializing the victims who lost on Valentine’s day. What was a public field for families to gather in support of loved ones during soccer games, became a memorial site to mourn the lives lost in the shooting.
Gabriella Demczuk for TIME
On March 6, 2018 each cross was surrounded by flowers and other memorial objects, protected from the rain by individual canopies.
Gabriella Demczuk for TIME

Now the flowers have withered and the crowds have dispersed, as TIME photographer Gabriella Demczuk captured in a moving series of images taken over the last month. The underpass that had been closed off to traffic while it served as a meeting station for members of the press is now clear and open for passing cars. A memorial at the Pine Trails Park amphitheater in Parkland, honoring the victims of the school shooting, has swelled in size. And the Sunrise Tactical Shop in Coral Springs, Fla., where accused shooter Nikolas Cruz reportedly bought his weapons, now has a sign prohibiting sales to anyone under the age of 21.

But the surviving students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas have continued to fight for change. On March 24, they’ll converge on Washington, D.C. and several other large cities across the country, joining perhaps hundreds of thousands of other protesters for a demonstration called March for Our Lives, at which they’ll demand an end to gun violence.

In the days after the shooting, television media congregated under the overpass outside of Marjory Stoneman Douglas, creating a staging area for stand ups and press conferences. It was the closest anyone could get to the school and to any news of what was happening.
Gabriella Demczuk for TIME
A few weeks after the shooting the media had departed and traffic was moving freely. It seemed like any other day, except for a handful of journalists and television reporters planted across the street from the school waiting to interview students on their first full week of class.
Gabriella Demczuk for TIME
Mourners leave flowers in front of a row of angels at the Pine Trails Park amphitheater before the vigil in Parkland, Florida on Feb. 15, 2018.
Gabriella Demczuk for TIME
Three weeks later the memorial was still there. The flowers had dried and the toys had weathered but the seventeen angels still stood.
Gabriella Demczuk for TIME
Following the shooting, most communities around Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School were closed to the public as small but clear barricades were placed in the streets.
Gabriella Demczuk for TIME
Weeks later the communities around the high school were open to traffic again as the students returned to school. There are now calls to tear down Building 12, the freshman building where 17 students and faculty died.
Gabriella Demczuk for TIME
Flowers and crosses were put up on a fence across from the high school, the closest anyone could get to the school after the shooting.
Gabriella Demczuk for TIME

 

 

Three weeks later, the crosses still hung and fresh flowers had been added to the dead ones.
Gabriella Demczuk for TIME
Sunrise Tactical Supply in Coral Springs, where accused shooter Nikolas Cruz bought his weapon. Just down the street from the high school, the store lay mostly empty and was closed indefinitely. A sign at the window stated “God Bless Our Troops…Especially Our Snipers.”
Gabriella Demczuk for TIME
Not much had changed at the supply shop three weeks later except for the addition of a sign stating “absolutely no sales under the age of 21.” Accused shooter Nikolas Cruz was 19 years old. Shortly after this picture was taken, Florida Governor Rick Scott signed into law a bill that raised the minimum age to purchase a firearm to 21 and extended the waiting time to three days.
Gabriella Demczuk

Gabriella Demczuk is A Photographer based in Washington D.C. Follow her on Instagram @gdemczuk.

Melissa Chan is a TIME Reporter. Follow her on Twitter @melissalchan.

Josh Raab is a TIME Multimedia Editor. Follow him on Instagram @instagraabit.

Contact us at editors@time.com.