- When police arrived on the scene of the Parkland, Florida shooting last week, they were confused by an apparent tape delay on security cameras at the high school.
- The delay made it seem like shooter Nikolas Cruz was still on campus, although he had actually left on foot minutes earlier.
- Police were also stymied by several other logistical issues, including poor radio transmission.
- The Coral Springs Police Department maintains the tape delay did not affect the overall police response to the shooter and injured victims.
When police officers and other first responders arrived on the scene of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida last week, they were apparently confused by the tape delay on the school’s camera system, leading them to scour the building looking for the shooter long after he had already fled the scene.
According to the Sun Sentinel, when officers arrived sometime around 2:50 pm, they turned to the school’s security camera footage in order to track 19-year-old shooter Nikolas Cruz. But what they didn’t realise was that the images they were seeing of Cruz on screen had taken place 20 minutes before.
Police officers chased through both floors of the school looking for the suspected shooter.
“Were monitoring the subject, he went from the third floor to the second floor …” a police officer said over radio at 2:54 pm. “They’re monitoring him on camera.”
But by the time officers arrived and were searching for Cruz, the shooter had dropped his weapon, left the school grounds, and had gone to a nearby Walmart. There, he bought a drink at Subway and loitered at a McDonald’s nearby.
Meanwhile, police officers were dealing with a host of problems.
“We got in so fast, we’re pulling them out. It made it harder to identify where the guy was,” Coral Springs Police Chief Tony Pustizzi told the Sentinel about the tape delay. The Coral Springs Police Department arrived on the scene along with the Broward County Sheriff’s department.
It took police some time to realise the problem.
“Somebody would say: ‘He’s on the second floor,’ and we had guys on the second floor saying: ‘We’re on the second floor, we don’t see him.'” Pustizzi told the Sentinel. “That’s when we figured out there’s a tape delay.”
Several other logistical issues made things even more complicated
But even before the tape delay problems started, police officers reportedly could not immediately access the camera system, and were unable to find someone to help them, the Sentinel reports.
“Peterson would be the one that would have the access to where – to where the cameras are,” one officer said over the radio, referring to security guard Deputy Scot Peterson.
“I don’t know where Peterson is,” another responded.
“We need somebody with the camera system ASAP,” another officer urged. “Where is the principal, who is with the principal?”
Police officers also apparently were not sure if they were entering the right building when they first arrived on the scene to look for Cruz.
Srgt. Carla Kmiotek of the Coral Springs Police Department though said these complications did not affect the overall police response.
“It absolutely did not delay our response, nor did it delay the treatment of victims that was happening simultaneously,” Kmiotek told Business Insider. “Obviously it was chaotic, there was not way for it not to be. Officers went in immediately to look for the bad guy based on the information that we had.”
Kmiotek was inside the high school along with other police officers from her department and from the sheriff’s department.
The Sentinel also reported that there were issues with the radio transmission during the the police response to the shooting due to outmoded equipment. Kmiotek though said this problem did not affect the Coral Springs Police Department.
The Broward County Sheriff’s department could not be immediately reached for comment.
In the week since the shooting, questions have arisen about the police response, how Cruz was able to escape, and why it took almost an hour and a half for Cruz to be apprehended after the shooting stopped. Peterson, the armed security guard on campus, apparently did not discharge his weapon at all during the shooting.
Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel told reporters his department would look into all of these concerns.
“The response and actions of Deputy Peterson will be looked at and scrutinised, as will everyone’s” Israel said, according to The New York Times.
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