The horrific Parkland massacre that rocked Florida last week has prompted a lot of discussion on what lawmakers, law enforcement officials, and civilians could have done to prevent the shooting.
The shooting has led to a spirited debate on gun reform, with student survivors of the tragedy calling on lawmakers and sponsors to boycott the NRA, the pro-gun group which funds several elected officials in their campaigns. President Donald Trump, on the other hand, has proposed training teachers in the use of weapons as a measure to prevent school shootings. He also came down heavily on the FBI, which confessed to having been tipped about the suspect, Nikolas Cruz, at least a couple of times in the past.
Then information emerged that Broward County Sheriff’s Deputy Scot Peterson, who was armed and in uniform, failed to act despite being outside the school at the time of the shooting. Footage from cameras showed that Peterson failed to act for at least four minutes while the gunman was shooting children inside, leaving Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel “devastated and sick to his stomach.” Later, CNN confirmed that there were three other deputies outside the school — pistols drawn — who hid behind their vehicles during the shooting.
Moreover, the 19-year-old suspect had a long history of problematic behavior. He posted disturbing images of himself with a range of weapons on social media channels including Instagram, where he uploaded pictures with knives and the AR-15 he used to gun down his victims. Despite a range of red flags existing on his social media pages, there was no action taken on the part of law enforcement.
According to a stunning new report, Cruz had been reported at least 23 times to the local sheriff’s office in the last ten years, but nothing came of it. Since 2010 alone, law enforcement had to respond to his house 39 times. During one call to 911 by his foster parents, the dispatcher was informed about Cruz’s identity and his desire to kill, that he reportedly buried weapons in the backyard so nobody could find them, and yet there was no significant follow up by the local sheriff’s office or other law enforcement agencies.
“It’s not the first time that [Nikolas] has pointed a gun at somebody’s head,” said the desperate woman with whom Cruz had lived since his mother’s death during her call to 911, the recording of which you can hear in the video below.
Next day, a tipster informed FBI that Nikolas Cruz had weapons on him and that “he could be a school shooter some day.”
In fact, Cruz himself boasted about shooting people with his AR-15, even carrying bullets to his school. In January, an anonymous caller told FBI that she felt Nikolas Cruz was about to “explode.” When asked what the caller thought Cruz might end up doing, she said the following.
“Getting into a school and just shooting the place up. I just want to, you know, get it off my chest in case something does happen and I do believe something’s going to happen.”
All of which led CNN contributor Michael Smerconish to conclude that the Parkland shooting was entirely avoidable and the result of an “epic intelligence failure.”