The Latest: Superintendent discusses security improvements
SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) — The Latest on the commission investigating the massacre at a Florida high school (all times local):
The superintendent of a Florida school district where 17 people were killed at a high school says he’s focusing on providing recovery and wellness for the students, improving school safety and holding administrators accountable.
Broward County Superintendent Robert Runcie appeared Thursday before the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission.
Runcie outlined security improvements, including single points of entry and armed guardians or police officers at all schools, and expanded mental health resources for students. Commission members then grilled Runcie on the district’s communication with law enforcement and procedures for dealing with active shooters. Several commissioners pointed out that the district still hadn’t created a policy since the Feb. 14 shooting for marking off “hard corners,” which are areas in a classroom that a shooter can’t hit from outside the door.
The then-sheriff’s deputy who was on campus during the Florida high school massacre but failed to confront the shooter didn’t appear to answer an investigative panel’s questions.
Former Broward deputy Scot Peterson declined to appear Thursday before the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission. His attorney Joseph DiRuzzo III appeared and told the panel he had filed a lawsuit earlier Thursday to quash the subpoena ordering his appearance.
DiRuzzo then left. One victim’s father said to DiRuzzo, “He didn’t do his job. My daughter should be alive.”
Peterson was assigned to the school and arrived outside the building where 17 died Feb. 14 shortly after the shooting began. He drew his handgun, but never went inside to confront the shooter even after other deputies and police officers did.
Commissioners believe he may have been able to save six people who were killed on the building’s third floor if he had intervened.
The suspected gunman in the Florida high school massacre tried to get a ride from the brother of one of the girls he had wounded.
The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission heard Thursday that about 35 minutes after suspect Nikolas Cruz fled the school last Feb. 14, he entered a nearby McDonald’s. He sat down next to a student he knew who’d fled the school where 17 died.
Pinellas County Sgt. John Suess told the panel Cruz and the student did not know the boy’s sister was a victim. He said Cruz was “pushy” about getting a ride from the other student’s mother, but did not get one. Cruz was arrested about 30 minutes later as he walked through a neighborhood.
The 20-year-old suspect has pleaded not guilty. His attorneys say he would plead guilty in return for a life sentence. Prosecutors are seeking a death sentence.
The commission investigating the massacre at a Florida high school saw videos and radio calls detailing the chaos and confusion during law enforcement’s response.
The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission heard Thursday that Broward County sheriff’s deputies and Coral Springs police officers couldn’t communicate by radio throughout the initial response to the February shooting that left 17 dead. That put them in danger of accidentally firing on each other.
There was also confusion about whether the gunman was still inside the school because the video system in the office was unknowingly on a 15-minute delay.
The officers searching the building where the shootings happened were falsely told he was coming down from the third floor at their position on the second floor, when in fact he had fled the building. That delayed the response to reaching victims on the third floor, where six lay dead or dying and four wounded.
The then-sheriff’s deputy on campus during the Florida high school massacre is scheduled to testify before a state commission investigating the shooting.
Former Broward County Deputy Scot Peterson is subpoenaed to appear Thursday before the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission.
Members are expected to ask why he didn’t enter the building where 17 people died Feb. 14 and try to stop the shooter. Panel members said Wednesday that he was “not a real cop” and “a coward.”
Peterson told investigators he didn’t know where the shots were coming from and that he heard only two or three. His attorney did not respond to an email Wednesday seeking comment.
Broward Sheriff Scott Israel and school Superintendent Robert Runcie are scheduled to testify after Peterson.