One week after a mass shooter Nikolas Cruz murdered 17 people inside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High, Broward’s top cop on Thursday revealed a stunning series of failures by the sheriff’s department.
A school campus cop heard the gunfire, rushed to the building but never went inside – instead waiting outside for another four agonizing minutes as Cruz continued the slaughter.
And long before Cruz embarked on the worst school shooting in Florida history, Broward Sheriff’s deputies had multiple warnings that the 19-year-old had a fixation on weaponry and hate symbols and was a potential school shooter, according to records released Thursday .
In November, a tipster called BSO to say Cruz “could be a school shooter in the making” but deputies did not write up a report on it. That came just weeks after a relative called asking BSO to seize his weapons. Two years ago, according to a timeline of interactions with Cruz’s family, a deputy investigated a report that Cruz “planned to shoot up the school” – intelligence forwarded to the campus deputy, with no apparent result.
The admissions, made by Broward Sheriff Scott Israel, added to the growing list of missed signs in the years before Cruz went on a rampage that horrified the country and re-ignited the debate on gun control. The FBI has already admitted that in January it failed to follow up on a tip that Cruz was a threat.
On Thursday, Israel focused much of his press conference on the school resource officer stationed at the campus, Scot Peterson, who chose to resign after he was suspended without pay. Peterson’s decision was made after investigators reviewed surveillance footage of the Parkland shooting.
“I am devastated,” Israel said. “Sick to my stomach. He never went in.”
According to Israel, Peterson remained outside Building 12 for about four minutes. The shooting lasted about six minutes, he said. When the shooting began the deputy was inside the school handling a matter with a female student.
A review of surveillance video showed that the deputy was in position and armed but never entered the building. He remained stationed outside the building while the shooting went on.
Israel said Peterson should have “Went in. Addressed the killer. Killed the killer.”
He said the video was part of the investigation and Israel said it may never be released.
On Feb. 14, deputies say Cruz, 19 walked into his former school and opened fire with an AR-15 killing 14 students and three teachers.