Failures at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School
Before the Shooting
The school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida on February 14, 2018 resulted in the death of 17 students and faculty. A nation exhausted by these public mass murders was again asking why, as they tried to contemplate the horror of yet another attack on defenseless children. What was also remarkable about this event is the number of failures from the Broward County School District, law enforcement and other authorities before and during this incident that could have either prevented it from happening or shortened its duration.
The murderer, whose name will not be mentioned here, had a long, troubled history of adjusting to life. 911 calls from his family members, violent, erratic behavior, and trouble at school were an almost constant occurrence. Deputies had been called to his house a total of 39 times over seven years. He received a total of 26 disciplinary reports while attending Westglades Middle School and was suspended once for fighting. In 2013, when he was around 15 years old, his mother called police because he threw her against a wall for taking his X-Box away. She told the police that he had anger issues. In Early 2014, he was transferred out of his middle school to a special school that offered on-site psychiatric services and other emotional support.
Later, in 2016, the killer posted on Instagram that he had a plan to shoot up Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where he was then a student. The killer would repeat this threat in 2017, when a man from Mississippi informed the Federal Bureau of Investigation that the soon-to-be killer stated on YouTube that he was, “…going to be a professional school shooter.” No significant law enforcement intervention came from either report.
Many students at the high school expressed their fear of and concerns about the shooter to school officials. One student overheard him say he wanted to commit a mass shooting at the school approximately one year before he actually did. She reported it to police. The police informed the school staff, and the killer was expelled from school. Additionally, a year before the shooting, the security team at the high school discussed among themselves that they suspected he would be the kid most likely to shoot up the school.
This young man was a ticking time bomb. Authorities were warned three times that this troubled, aggressive young man wanted to commit a mass shooting in his high school. Security staff at the school suspected that he was capable of doing it. Clearly, both law enforcement and school faculty had numerous opportunities to intervene and prevent the tragedy. They didn’t.
During the shooting
On February 14, 2018, the shooter executed his violent plan. Before he even entered the school, a campus security member saw “that crazy boy” walk through a gate toward the school with a rifle bag. The security member did not stop him. He did, however, contact another security member, who would try but fail to intercept the killer inside the building. Neither security guard instituted the Code Red lockdown procedures the school had developed to deal with such incidents.
A short time later, a freshman at the school saw the killer loading the gun in a stairwell. The shooter warned the freshman that he should leave. The freshman ran to tell a coach/security monitor what he had seen. That coach, also a member of the security team, was equipped with a radio, but did not institute the school’s Code Red procedures for lockdown.
After the killer started his rampage, chaos erupted. The armed campus security officer, Deputy Scott Peterson, drew his gun but did not enter the building. He would eventually hide while students were being murdered. Soon, three other Broward County Deputies would arrive on scene and hide behind their cars rather than charge to the sound of the killer’s gunshots to end the threat.
After it was all over, 17 students and faculty were found murdered. The perpetrator was completely unchallenged by armed Deputies on campus and escaped.
This is why we at Bullets Both Ways and Project Angel Shield do what we do. We cannot stand by while our children, our very future, are failed by those who are entrusted to protect them. We are determined to execute on our mission to expand protection in our nation’s schools and houses of worship, to promote preparedness, and to provide support to individuals, families, groups and anyone who is a victim of violence. We appreciate your support.
By Drew Beatty