By David E. Hubler
Contributor, EDM Digest
Broward County, Florida, Sheriff Scott Israel announced on Thursday that an armed school resource deputy was on duty during the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School mass shooting on February 14.
Officer Scot Peterson waited outside for four minutes as the gunman killed 17 students and faculty.
“Peterson never went in, despite taking a position on the west side of Building 12, where most of the carnage happened,” Israel told CNN.
The sheriff said Peterson should have “went in. Addressed the killer. Killed the killer,” the south Florida Sun Sentinel newspaper reported Friday.
Peterson resigned and subsequently retired. He had been on the force for more than three decades and had been a resource officer at Stoneman Douglas since 2009, according to the Sun Sentinel.
Two Deputies under Investigation for Their Handling of Early Warnings about Shooter
Two Sheriff’s Department deputies are also under investigation. They are being examined for how they handled early warnings to the department about the alleged shooter, Nikolas Cruz.
Israel also announced that his deputies will now carry rifles, including AR-15 semi-automatic weapons, when they are on school grounds, CBS Channel 12 in West Palm Beach reported. The new policy went into effect Wednesday morning.
“Only deputies who have trained and qualified will carry those rifles. But we need to be able to defeat any threat that comes on to campus," Israel said.
Deputies must keep the rifles locked in their police vehicles when they are not on campus, Israel told Channel 12. He also announced that he is adding more deputies on school grounds.
Pro-gun advocates, including President Trump and the National Rifle Association, want teachers and other school personnel to be armed to deter future attacks. But many educators reject that suggestion.
School District Security System Had 20-Minute Delay
The Sun Sentinel revealed on Thursday that the Broward School District’s security cameras did not provide real-time video. The system’s 20-minute delay complicated police efforts to track and pin down the shooter.
The police thought they were seeing Cruz live on security cameras in the building. But they were actually seeing tape-delayed images. Cruz fled the building before police knew he was no longer inside.
Cruz “had escaped the school’s freshman building 26 minutes earlier, a timeline released by the Broward Sheriff’s Office shows,” the Sun Sentinel said.
The newspaper also revealed that:
- At the same time the shooter escaped, police said they had entered a building, though it’s unclear from radio transmissions whether it was the right building or a neighboring one.
- Police initially could not get to the security cameras and couldn’t immediately find someone to help them.
- Police communication was hampered by outmoded radios that left some transmissions inaudible.
- During the Stoneman Douglas shooting, a dispatcher warned all units at 2:56 p.m. that the radios were malfunctioning. “You can hear me, but I cannot hear you, so standby.”
Latest Disclosures about the Shooting Prompt Key Questions
Why didn’t Peterson follow his training and enter the school? Had his training been updated since he got the assignment on 2009? Peterson needs to be debriefed to answer those questions to improve the training of current police officers.
If Peterson and the other law enforcement personnel had been armed with AR-15s prior to the slayings, would that have ended the killings sooner and saved lives? That is impossible to know for sure.
What value is there in a TV security system that has a 20-minute delay? Also, why were police radios so inadequate that officers had trouble communicating? County executives and their technical staff need to answer for those glaring errors.
Any insight would be useful to all law enforcement agencies in mitigating future mass shooting situations. The general public needs to know as well.