School board members who lost loved ones in Parkland describe ‘painful’ visit to 1200 building

PARKLAND, Fla. – The Parkland school shooting prompted a widow and a mother to serve on Broward County’s school board. On Friday, the two women shared their experiences walking through the building where the massacre happened.

The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School 1200 building was open to visits from families and survivors for a third day Friday.

Lori Alhadeff and Debbi Hixon were among those who chose to visit the building in those first three days.

Alhadeff lost her daughter, Alyssa, an MSD student, in the shooting, while Hixon lost her husband, Chris, the school’s athletic director, who raced into the building to try to help students. Both now help lead the Broward school district.

Alhadeff said Friday that she “needed to have some kind of closure on where and how Alyssa died on February 14.”

“All I wanted to do was get to Alyssa at this building and I couldn’t get there and so five years later, today, I had that opportunity to finally see where she was murdered,” Alhadeff said.

Alhadeff described the sight of her daughter’s blood on the floor of the preserved crime scene as “extremely painful and horrific.”

Hixon described the shooting as “like a silent movie that plays in my head all the time.”

She said touring the scene helped place surveillance video showing her husband rushing in to assist into perspective, allowing her to experience the point of view of terrified students and teachers.

“You really get a sense of what that must have felt like,” Hixon said. “Seeing the puddles of blood where people had been shot or had is like a bad movie.”

The shooting ignited a passion in both women for school safety advocacy.

“The experience today will bring me to work that much harder to have as many school measures put in place as possible,” Alhadeff said.

Both women, along with some other Parkland families, have advocated for stricter gun laws.

“The right to own a weapon should not supersede the right to life,” Hixon said.

The sister of murdered student Joaquin Oliver also visited Friday. More are expected the following week.

About the Author:

Christina returned to Local 10 in 2019 as a reporter after covering Hurricane Dorian for the station. She is an Edward R. Murrow Award-winning journalist and previously earned an Emmy Award while at WPLG for her investigative consumer protection segment "Call Christina."