Fort Lauderdale, Fla. ( Associated Press) – A foundation dedicated to the 17 people killed in the 2018 Parkland, Fla., school shooting has begun raising money and seeking designs for a public memorial to the victims at a nature reserve near the Everglades.
The Parkland 17 Memorial Foundation said the memorial would provide a place for the public to reflect on the victims of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting on Valentine’s Day in 2018.
“It’s a way of remembering those who were taken from us on that terrible day almost five years ago,” said Tony Montalto, whose 14-year-old daughter Gina died. Montalto is the vice president of the foundation and liaises with the families of the victims.
The reservation is located in the suburbs of Fort Lauderdale, near the high school, on the border between Parkland and Coral Springs.
The project is overseen by the foundation and design proposals will be reviewed by the families of the victims.
Montalto said he has launched a national call with artists to get ideas for the project.
“We’re not giving a budget because we want people to dream big,” Montalto said.
In November 2022, Nikolas Cruz was sentenced to life in prison without parole after a three-month trial in Fort Lauderdale. The jury could not unanimously agree on the death penalty. During the trial, the families of the victims spent two days calling him a scoundrel, a coward, a monster and an inhuman who deserved a painful death.
Cruz, now 24, was a student at Stoneman Douglas. Since his arrest hours after the shooting, he had been in the Broward County Jail. He is now an inmate of the Florida prison system.