What Happens to Mass Shooting Sites?

The New Zealand Herald

What’s happened to the mass shootings sites around America, including Pulse night club. Photo / AP

Sandy Hook, Columbine High School and Pulse nightclub share a shocking history.

On the night of June 12 2016, a gunman shot and killed 49 clubgoers in the Orlando club, injuring many more in massacre. The venue, which was built for music, dancing and celebrating with friends – now stands as a memorial site, closed and covered in flowers, balloons and photographs of those who lost their lives.

Orlando officials are still deciding on the best permanent memorial for those killed in the nightclub shooting – which was the deadliest in modern American history.

Jean Dasilva sits next to a makeshift memorial for the victims of mass shooting at the Pulse Orlando nightclub as he mourns the loss of his friend Javier Jorge-Reyes Tuesday. Photo / AP

This month, almost four years after the shooting at Sandy Hook in December 2012, the new $AU66 million (NZ$69 million) educational facility will be reopened on the same site that 20 first-graders and six staff members were killed by 20-year-old Adam Lanza.

After the horror shooting, parents of children enrolled in the school in Newtown, Connecticut, couldn’t image ever sending their kids back to the site.

But in an 86,000-square-foot school reconstruction, the old Sandy Hook has been replaced with buildings that contain safety features such as impact-resistant windows and state-of-the-art video monitoring.

“Our goal was to create a place of community and learning, a place that would honour those we lost and allow those who were left behind the chance to move forward,” First Selectman Pat Llodra said in a statement.

The new Sandy Hook Elementary School, which is on the same property as the massacre, will reopen this month – four years after the shooting occurred. Photo / AP

But they know it will take more than a new building and returning students and staff members with special resources to cope.


On April 20, 1999, two disgruntled seniors at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado shot and killed 12 students and a teacher, and wounded 23 others. Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, who committed suicide after the deadly rampage, reopened the debate on US gun control and whether tighter controls should be introduced.

After the burials of the 13 deceased, there was the issue of what to do with the school itself and the students who needed to go to class.

Students run out of the Columbine High School as the two gunmen went on a shooting spree. Picture: Getty Images. Photo / Getty Images

Spending more than $US1.2 million on repairs and renovations, officials decided to permanently close the library where many of the victims were killed. Later, it was bulldozed and turned into an atrium.

From the day of the shooting until August 16 1999, the school had its American flag at half-mast. It took four months for students and teachers to return to the school after the massacre.

Before class began on the Monday, principal Frank DeAngelis lead the 2000 students, teachers and staff in a “take back the school” rally.

While students were looking forward to getting back into their school year – some were obviously nervous about going back to the site that now had so many horrific memories.

“I’m really excited to get our school back,” Julie McGinley, who was 15 when she returned to school, told the Guardian in 1999.

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“But I’m nervous, too. All summer I’ve been trying to live life as normal. Being back there is going to trigger a lot of memories.”

A permanent memorial “to honour and remember the victims of the April 20, 1999 shootings at Columbine High School” was dedicated on September 21, 2007, in Clement Park, a meadow adjacent to the school where impromptu memorials were held in the days following the shooting. The memorial fund raised $1.5 million in donations in the eight years it took to plan and create.


On July 20, 2012, 12 people were killed and a further 70 injured after being gunned down by James Eagan Holmes as they watched The Dark Night Rises in a cinema in Aurora, Colorado.

The gunman, who confessed to the shooting but pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity, was convicted of 24 counts of first-degree murder, 140 counts of attempted first-degree murder and one count of possessing explosives. On 26th August, 2015, he was given 12 life sentences.

The horror outside Century 16 cinema, after 12 people were shot dead during a screening of The Dark Knight Rises. Photo / AP

Six months after the shooting, the owner of the cinema decided to renovate the facility and reopen under a new name, Century Aurora. At the time of opening, many people were not supportive – particularly the victims’ families.

Family members of nine of the victims wrote a letter criticising Cinemark for showing “ZERO compassion to the families of the victims whose loved ones were killed in their theatre”.

But officials said that a public vote indicated they were widely in favour of reopening the cinema under a new name.


It has been just over a year since nine African-American churchgoers were shot dead by a young, white man who entered their Charleston, South Carolina, church, joined their Bible study for an hour and then opened fire. The shooter, Dylann Roof, blamed his victims because of their skin colour and was charged with 33 federal offences, allegedly telling investigators he wanted to start a race war.In the wake of the shooting, security was increased at the complex with cameras and in some cases, posting armed ushers but the doors reopened.

Police tape surrounds the parking lot behind the AME Emanuel Church in Charleston, where nine people were shot dead. Photo / AP

The Confederate flag came down for good from its pole on the Statehouse grounds. The city of Charleston engraved the names of the dead on libraries and schools, and artists honoured them in portraits and murals. The church, known as Emanuel AME, was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.

On the one year anniversary of the mass shooting, the church held several services and events in memory of the nine victims. The memorial day, which was held on June 17 2016, had worship services, a community supper and a unity event, which were open to the public.

South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley praised the resilience of the three people wounded by and the families of the those killed.

“For them, it feels like it does to me,” she said. “I feel like this just happened yesterday.”

Ahead of the main memorial, more than 150 people gathered for the same Bible study where the shooting occurred last year. This time, it was led by Rev. Anthony Thompson, whose wife, Myra Thompson, died at the church shooting.

Despite the horror of what happened in June last year, the church continues to function as normal today.

15 thoughts on “What Happens to Mass Shooting Sites?”

  1. Hmmm. For some reason I expected there to be some sort of conclusion drawn at the end. My mistake, there really wasn’t anything to lead me to expect that, just the wording of the title, which I obviously misunderstood.

    1. The conclusion is that it was all real and it was all money well spent. Now go back to your football and chips.

      Oh, and as for Sandy “hook”: if they actually installed impact-resistant windows and state-of-the-art video monitoring in these buildings, you can bet there is more going on there than reading, writing and ‘rithmetic.

      Criminal syndicates have such equipment to protect themselves either from competing criminal syndicates or from the unwashed masses. School children of the unwashed masses don’t have those ‘amenities.’ The PTB don’t give a whit about those school children. The only children who ‘count’ are those who are part of the “American” aristocracy.

  2. Spending more than $US1.2 million on repairs and renovations, officials decided to permanently close the library where many of the victims were killed. Later, it was bulldozed and turned into an atrium.

    Seems appropriate. There’s no place in any public school system for libraries. Heck, those students might develop reason, skepticism, or thought.

  3. Apparently journalists at The New Zealand Herald are under the impression people died at these places. They need to do a follow up. Their readers deserve nothing less.

    1. No, no Anne B. Journalists at The New Zealand Herald don’t exist.
      As far as The New Zealand Herald’s owners are concerned, the readers are getting exactly what they deserve.

      1. You are right. This article from the NZH is not credited to any one specific. They do have a new fresh faced weekday editor who is accountable to his boss New Zealand Media and Entertainment and the diminishing circulation which has shrunk considerably to about 140,000.

        Media and Entertainment – there we have it.

        “One of New Zealand’s most respected journalists and newsroom leaders, Otago Daily Times editor Murray Kirkness, is the new weekday editor of The New Zealand Herald.”

        Anyone contemplating expatting after the November selection, please cross New Zealand off the list.

  4. Charleston: $29 million “fast tracked” from the US Dept. of Justice to the families of the victims – to help them with recovery from the grief and trauma. Who disbursed that money? How was it done? A bank? An atty? Fed. DOJ office in Charleston? How do they get $29 million into the bank accounts of those people? I sure like to see some media follow-up on that tax money.

  5. Ok, so let me see: 1.2 million to ‘renovate’ the school (Columbine, that is) and 1.5 million to erect a ‘permanent memorial’ in a meadow adjacent to the school.
    Hmm. 1.2 million to repaint and patch holes and a team to come in a clean. I would think an honest contractor could have done that for $30K maximum. For 30K and a plane ticket I know people who’d have gone there and done a great job.
    And the ‘memorial’: 1.5 million for some plaques or markers, some pavers, and walkways? Again, a good (honest) mason and good (honest) memorial engraver could have erected a nice memorial for about $30K, maximum.
    Where in the h^ll did the rest of that money go?
    People who donate to this kind of stuff are as dumb as the day is long.

    1. “I wonder who won the clean up contracts”?

      The same people who have “cleaned up” on all the phoney charities totaling in the 100’s of millions of Dollars…

      Have you ever noticed when it’s a false flag everybody gets millions of dollars.

      But when it’s real nobody gets Jack squat, that’s how you can tell a false flag 101 ha ha ha ha

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