Reports immediately following the shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., on Valentine’s Day noted that deputies from the Broward County Sheriff’s Department waited outside as alleged killer Nikolas Cruz was murdering students and staff inside.
Those reports also noted that the school’s armed resource officer, Deputy Scot Peterson, failed to enter the school as well while shots were being fired, leaving millions of Americans — as well as grieving parents — stunned and angry.
But a new report from the Coral Springs Police Department contains new, even more damning, details about what has become the worst school shooting in Florida’s history.
As reported by PJ Media, as students and staff were being hunted down inside, deputies from the BSO were “cowering behind their cars and a nearby tree.”
What’s more, they apparently made no attempt whatsoever to advance towards the school during the first crucial moments of the incident, much less attempt to enter the premises — despite the fact that a deputy hiding behind a tree told the Miami Herald that he, in fact, knew where the shooter was.
“I was advised by an unknown BSO Deputy taking cover behind a tree, ‘he is on the third floor,’” Coral Springs Officer Bryan Wilkins wrote in a report following the shootings that recounted and documented his own actions.
The paper reported further:
Another Coral Springs cop who arrived at Stoneman Douglas within minutes of the shooting, Sgt. Nick Mazzei, confirmed that he saw BSO deputies “taking positions” outside the school and rushed past them, according to a report he filed that was also released Tuesday.
BSO deputies arrived before Coral Springs police were on the scene, but that didn’t matter, the report noted, because none of them even tried to interdict the suspect or help wounded kids and staff.
“Law enforcement officers around the country are trained to find and confront active shooters without delay,” the paper reported, adding: “Seventeen people died at Stoneman Douglas.”
The just-released report goes further in suggesting that problems within the BSO extend well beyond that of the school’s resource officer failing to react. Before he resigned from the department he said he believed the shooting was coming from outside the school, which is why he never entered.
Wilkins wrote in his report that he arrived on the scene within two minutes of a report that shots were fired inside the school, and BSO deputies were already there. (Related: Newly-released video of Parkland, Fla., school shooting shows armed school resource officer Scot Peterson OUTSIDE as kids were being murdered inside.)
“I saw approximately four Broward County Sheriff’s Office vehicles parked [on the road outside the school] … with their personnel taking up exterior positions behind their vehicles,” Wilkins wrote. “I drove up just west of the campus building 1200, exited my vehicle, grabbed my AR-15 rifle and donned on my tactical/medical gear.”
That’s when he found the BSO deputy perched behind a tree, he said. Wilkins then added that he and Coral Springs Detective Gil Monzon, with an “unknown BSO deputy,” then began approaching the freshman building were Cruz had killed 17. He said the officers could see bullet holes in windows and doors.
The officers immediately found the dead, dying, and wounded. Reports said that Cruz had likely fled about five minutes before those officers entered the building, according to a timeline that has been released in recent weeks by Broward County.
A Margate police officer also arrived on the scene and was told by a BSO deputy, “Standby, SWAT is on the way.”
“I informed the deputy that I was a SRT/SWAT operator and there was no time to wait,” Margate officer Chad Ryen wrote. “Based on my training and experience, I made the determination to make entry into the school.”
BSO officials told the Herald that there are differing accounts of what happened.
No one is disputing that. But also, no one is disputing the deputies’ hesitance to protect lives as they were being snuffed out, either, and that’s issue to begin with.
Read more about school shootings at Shootings.news.
J.D. Heyes is also editor-in-chief of The National Sentinel.