Emotional volunteers gathered at the mass shooting memorial at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida this morning to begin removing the flowers, plaques, American flags, crosses, stars of David and more that have formed a tribute there for over a month.
The memorial sprung up in the wake of the Feb. 14 mass shooting in Parkland, where accused gunman Nikolas Cruz killed 17.
Parkland Historical Society president Jeff Schwartz told the Sun-Sentinel the memorial will be kept at Florida Atlantic University and that he hopes the pieces can be cleaned and restored for a public exhibit for the first anniversary of the shooting.
"We need to save it now because it’s degrading," he told the newspaper. "The handwritten notes, the posters, everything."
The timing is also right because it's spring break, Schwartz told the Sun-Sentinel.
Among the 50 volunteers who disassembled the memorial today were victims' grieving parents and friends, as well as Stoneman Douglas alumni, the Sun-Sentinel reported. Some volunteers would stop working to read notes that were left there, while others would stop to cry, the newspaper said.
Several days ago two people were arrested for allegedly stealing dozens of items from the memorial, including teddy bears, dedication plaques and 17 white metal angel pennants. They were both charged with removing or disfiguring a tomb or a monument, the Broward County Sheriff's Office said.