It was, until recently, the name of just another community member who had been involved in the building of the 7-acre playground.
On Valentine’s Day, the name engraved on the wooden fence slat at Liberty Park became a haunting, cruel reminder of the young man who killed 17 people at the local high school in Parkland, Fla.
On Sunday, the city of Parkland removed the name of Nikolas J. Cruz, leaving the slab empty, after it became aware of its existence, according to the Sun Sentinel.
Ken Shack, a bicyclist who stopped by Liberty Park on Thursday, told the Sun Sentinel: “It should come down.”
Parkland City Spokesman Todd DeAngelis told the newspaper that after the massacre at the high school and the horror that befell the community, “it seemed the only logical course of action.”
Cruz’s mother, Lynda Cruz, involved her sons Nikolas and Zachary in building the playground many years ago, according to the newspaper. It’s not clear what the involvement entailed, since both were very young children at the time.
The city invited residents to pay to engrave their names in areas around the park as a fundraising effort.
Cruz, who is 19 years old and has been charged with 17 counts of murder, has waived his right to attend his hearing. He is being held without bail at the Broward County Jail.
As the case moves through the courts, it has fueled a debate over gun control in the halls of the Florida Capitol in Tallahassee, a six-hour drive from where the shooting took place at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.