During the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School massacre on Feb. 14, the first Broward Sheriff’s Office deputies to arrive on the scene took cover behind cars and a tree rather than running into the freshman building and engaging the attacker, according to an official report released Tuesday from Coral Springs Deputy Bryan Wilkins.
“I saw approximately four Broward County Sheriff’s Office vehicles parked in the west bound lane with their personnel taking up exterior positions behind their vehicles,” Wilkins wrote in the report.
“I arrived within two minutes. I drove up just west of campus building 1200, exited my vehicle, grabbed my AR-15 rifle and donned my tactical/medical vest. As I was advancing on foot through the chained link fence, I was advised by an unknown B.O. Deputy taking cover behind a tree, ‘he is on the third floor.'”
Broward County deputies arrived before Coral Springs police, but they didn’t immediately search for the shooter, or aid the wounded, according to reports.
As noted by the Miami Herald, “Law enforcement officers around the county are trained to find and confront active shooters without delay.”
Sgt. Nick Mazzei, another Coral Springs officer who arrived on the scene within minutes of the shooting, confirmed Wilkins’ report that Broward deputies “took positions” outside the school instead of engaging the shooter.
Wilkins and another Coral Springs officer, Detective Gil Monzon, entered the freshman building and found the dead and wounded. According to a timeline of events released by Broward County Sheriff’s Office last month, the shooter had already fled about 5 minutes before the two officers went into the building.
Broward County Sheriff’s Office has not confirmed the report from Coral Springs.
“There are different accounts of what happened,” BSO spokeswoman Keyla Concepcion said in an email. “The only two (law enforcement office) that have been confirmed as not making entry are BSO Deputy Scot Peterson and that Coral Springs PD Officer Burton.”
As noted by the Miami Herald, the Coral Springs report suggests the problems with “BSO’s response to the Parkland shooting go beyond the school’s resource officer, Deputy Scot Peterson.”
Peterson was at the school when the shooting began but never went into the building, choosing to hiding behind a stairwell outside.
“The school resource officer was behind a stairwell wall just standing there, and he had his gun drawn. And he was just pointing it at the building,” Stoneman Douglas student Brandon Huff recounted. “Shots started going off inside. You could hear them going off over and over.”
Peterson has since resigned as the school’s resource officer and remains the subject of a pending internal affairs investigation. So far, he is the only officer to face repercussions for that day, Miami Herald reported.
President Donald Trump blasted Peterson and other Broward officers who failed to confront the shooter during a meeting of U.S. governors at the White House in February.
“I really believe I’d run in there even if I didn’t have a weapon,” the president said. “And I think most of the people in this room would have done that too.”
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