- On Wednesday, the state commission investigating the Parkland shooting released a draft report on its findings.
- The report calls for an internal review of seven Broward County Sheriff’s deputies who allegedly didn’t respond to the massacre fast enough.
- It also suggests several security upgrades to the school that – if they had been in place at the time – may have lessened the loss of life.
Seventeen students and staff members at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School were killed in the shooting on February 14.
Suspected gunman Nikolas Cruz, 20, a former student at the school, confessed to police shortly after the shooting and could face the death penalty if he is convicted.
On Wednesday, a state commission formed to investigate the shooting released its draft report, which contends that Cruz was able to gain access to the school due to lax security.
The commission – which is comprised of law enforcement officers, public officials, and parents of the murdered students – also blamed sheriff’s deputies for their slow response to the massacre and called for an internal review into seven deputies in particular.
The commission is expected to discuss its findings during meetings in Tallahassee on Wednesday and Thursday. The final report is due to the governor and state legislature on January 1.
Here are the key findings and recommendations from the draft report.
Negative findings, according to the draft report:
- Unlocked entrances at the school allowed the gunman to get inside.
- Seven Broward County Sheriff’s deputies responded to the scene and reportedly heard the gunfire, but failed to confront the shooter, which was “unacceptable and contrary to accepted protocol.”
- The slow response of Broward deputies was partly due to school resource officer Scot Peterson, who told his fellow deputies not to go near the building where the shooting was happening. The report points out that it was likely Peterson’s years of working at the school that left him ill-prepared to deal with “high-risk, high-stress situations.”
- The multiple agencies that responded to the shooting took “an excessive amount of time” to set up a unified command center, an issue that “stemmed from an absence of command and control and an ineffective radio system.”
- At least 30 people knew about the suspected gunman’s troubling behaviour before the shooting. These people either didn’t report their concerns or did report them and did not receive a follow up.
- Some of the students were killed because their classrooms didn’t have areas where they could hide. If every classroom had so-called “hard corners” the loss of life would have been less since Cruz “only shot people within his line of sight and he never entered any classroom.”
Positive findings, according to the draft report:
- Unlike the Broward sheriff’s deputies, Coral Springs police officers were aggressive in seeking out the shooter at the scene. The commission points out that the Coral Springs officers were trained for active shootings annually, while some of their Broward counterparts “could not remember the last time they attended active shooter training.”
- The shooting could have been far more deadly, since Cruz had 18 rounds of ammunition.
- Storm-resistant glass in the third floor teacher’s lounge prevented Cruz from positioning himself as a sniper.
- Some of Cruz’s bullets went through drywall and metal doors, but he didn’t seem to notice. If he had intentionally taken advantage of these weaknesses, “the amount of casualties would have been greater.”
- There’s “no evidence” that Cruz could have been involuntarily committed under the Baker Act, which would have prevented him from buying guns.
Recommendations, according to the draft report:
- The Broward County Sheriff’s Office should conduct an internal review into the seven deputies who reportedly didn’t respond to the shooting fast enough.
- The school district should conduct an internal probe into whether an assistant principal was warned about Cruz before the shooting.
- Schools should “immediately” start regular meetings on lockdown protocol and have a policy “that is well known to all school personnel.”
- Schools should be “hardened” to make it more difficult for a shooter to gain entrance. A few suggestions are limiting entry and exit points, installing metal detectors at entrances and stronger glass in classroom windows, locking classroom doors at all times, restricting visitors, and training staff on how to deal with unauthorised people on campus.
- “Hard corners” should be created in every classroom so students have a place to hide.
Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel issued a statement to INSIDER after the report was released Wednesday, saying: “We look forward to reviewing the commission’s findings. We will use it as a basis to conduct our own thorough investigation, and we’ll take appropriate steps to make any necessary improvements.”
INSIDER also reached out to the lawyer representing Peterson, but did not hear back.
- Read more about the Parkland shooting:
- A Parkland survivor thinks meditation – not more police – would help students move forward from school shootings
- A Parkland shooting survivor’s singing brought a room of Broadway singers to their feet
- Interrogation video shows the Parkland high school shooting suspect saying voices told him to ‘burn, kill, destroy’
- The Parkland shooting suspect attacked a detention officer and now faces charges for using the officer’s stun gun