In September 2016, two counselors and a resource officer at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School recommended that Nikolas Cruz be involuntarily committed for a mental health evaluation, per court documents obtained by The Associated Press.
Cruz, 19, stands accused of killing 17 people in a mass shooting at the Parkland, Florida, high school last month. Under Florida's Baker Act, a person can be forcibly committed for a mental health exam for at least three days, and it's not clear why no one ever followed through on the recommendation. The resource officer who proposed Cruz be committed was Scot Peterson; he resigned after the shooting when it emerged that he did not enter the building during the massacre. Had Cruz been committed, authorities told AP, it would have been a red flag during a background check, making it extremely difficult for him to get a gun legally.
The court documents state that Cruz told a classmate he wanted to purchase a gun and use it; told another student he tried drinking gasoline and was throwing up; and wrote "kill" in a notebook. He also cut his arm several times after he and a girlfriend broke up and punched a hole in a wall at his house, the documents say, but told clinicians with Henderson Behavioral Health that he was feeling better. Cruz admitted that he had a pellet gun, but said he was not capable of doing "serious harm" with it, AP reports. Catherine Garcia
The 19-year-old believed to have murdered 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on Feb. 14 had 180 rounds of ammunition left when he set down his AR-15 rifle and ammo vest to escape the school with the rest of the fleeing students, CBS News reported Tuesday night, and it may be a combination of luck and happenstance that he did not kill more people.
Sources told CBS News that the alleged gunman, Nikolas Cruz, tried to create a "sniper's nest" in a third-floor stairwell, but the building's hurricane-proof glass appears to have thwarted his plans when the window did not shatter despite the 16 rounds he shot into it. Investigators also believe Cruz's rifle may have jammed when he then tried to reload, CBS News correspondent Manuel Bojorquez reported, and he apparently set it down and left. It is still unclear why he stopped firing, though.
It has been nearly two weeks since a gunman killed 17 people at a high school in Parkland, Florida. Now, it turns out police say it could have been a lot worse. @BojorquezCBS on what the gunman may have been planning. pic.twitter.com/xhzIJNn26w
— CBS News (@CBSNews) February 27, 2018
Also, CBS News said, citing a federal law enforcement source, some of the gunman's ammunition magazines had swastikas on them, lending some credence to early reports that Cruz belonged to a white supremacist group.
Cruz had been kicked out of Stoneman Douglas in February 2017 for unspecified behavioral issues and told his only option was an alternative school for emotionally disturbed and disabled students, like the kind Cruz was placed in from eighth grade until January 2016, when he spent half the day at Stoneman Douglas and half at the alternative school, Broward County School Superintendent Robert Runcie said Tuesday. In November 2016, after he turned 18, he refused the mental health services the school offered, Runcie said. Peter Weber
The Broward Sheriff's Office reported receiving 23 calls warning about the Parkland shooter's family. It was actually 45.
The Broward County Sheriff's Department reported receiving 23 calls about the family of Nikolas Cruz, the confessed shooter in the Feb. 14 attack at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. But CNN reported Tuesday the number was actually nearly double that count, totaling 45 warnings about Cruz and his younger brother.
A previous CNN story said the figure was 39, which Broward Sheriff Scott Israel vehemently denied. "Since 2008, BSO responded to 23 incidents where previous contact was made with the killer or his family," his office said in a statement Saturday. "STOP REPORTING 39; IT'S SIMPLY NOT TRUE."
CNN's new report is "based on logs of the original calls and additional records" from the department. Most of the calls did not generate a written report, but among those that did, descriptions of the issues at hand include "mentally ill person," "child/elderly abuse," "domestic disturbance," and "missing person."
The Broward Sheriff's Office has already come under criticism for multiple deputies' alleged failure to promptly respond to Cruz's mass shooting. Israel has resisted calls to resign, claiming to have offered "amazing leadership" to his department. Bonnie Kristian
An attorney for the resource officer on duty at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 14 said the officer was following protocol when he didn't run into the building as a gunman opened fire, killing 17, and has been unfairly criticized and labeled "a coward."
Broward County Deputy Scot Peterson resigned last week, after being blasted by Sheriff Scott Israel for staying outside the building for about 4 minutes while the shooter made his way through the hallways. His attorney, Joseph DiRuzzo III, pushed back, saying "allegations that Mr. Peterson was a coward and that his performance, under the circumstances, failed to meet the standards of police officers are patently untrue."
Peterson believed the shooting was happening away from the school, DiRuzzo said, and he followed protocol by taking up a "tactical position" outside the building and initiating a Code Red lockdown. Peterson also had the "presence of mind" to have administrators review footage from closed-circuit cameras so they could find the shooter and give an accurate description to police. "It is our understanding that Sheriff Israel acknowledged that the investigation remains ongoing and that 'investigations will not be rushed or asked to jump to conclusions,'" DiRuzzo said. "We question why this statement would not also apply to Mr. Peterson."
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is looking into how all officers who responded to the incident acted, and DiRuzzo said Peterson will fully cooperate with the investigation. Catherine Garcia
Thousands of students and their parents returned to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on Sunday, the first time they were allowed back on campus since the Feb. 14 mass shooting there that killed 17 people.
Grief counselors and therapy dogs were on hand to support the students, and many of the teens and their parents wore maroon ribbons and shirts that read #MSDStrong in solidarity. They picked up backpacks and books that they left behind in the chaos, and spoke with their teachers, who returned to campus on Friday. School will start again for students on Wednesday with a modified schedule, and classes will not be held in the building where the shooting took place.
It was hard for freshman Francesca Lozano to be back on campus, she told the Sun-Sentinel. "Just seeing the building was scary," she said, but being with her friends "made it a lot better." There will be armed police officers at the school on Wednesday, and that's "relieving, and I think I'll feel more safe," freshman Nerlyn Abraham said. "But at the same time, it's going to be scary with the guns around." Catherine Garcia
Armed deputy assigned to Parkland high school 'never went in' during the mass shooting, sheriff says
The sheriff's deputy assigned to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, took up position outside the school last week about 90 seconds after the suspected 19-year-old gunman started firing, then waited outside for the remaining four minutes of the deadly rampage, Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said Thursday. "He never went in." Seventeen people were killed during the six minutes of shooting. The deputy, Scot Peterson, was armed and in uniform, and he should have "went in, addressed the killer, killed the killer," Israel said. "I'm devastated, sick to my stomach." He said he informed Peterson on Thursday he was suspended without pay pending an internal affairs investigation, but Peterson chose to resign instead.
Peterson, 54, had been with the Broward County Sheriff's Office since 1985, and a school resource officer at the high school since 2009. "The investigation will continue" into Peterson's performance, Israel said. "When we in law enforcement arrive to an active shooter, we go in and address the target and that's what should have been done." Before the Columbine High School shooting in 1999, officers were generally told to wait outside until a SWAT team arrived, but now they are told to confront the shooter, even if, like Peterson, they are alone and outgunned. Research has shown that an officer on the scene can slow down or stop a suspect, USA Today reports, even though about a third of those officers are shot.
The Broward County Sheriff's Office also released information on 23 calls related to the suspected shooter going back a decade, progressing from suicide concerns to fears about him harming others, including calls in February 2016 and November 2017 expressing fears that the suspect might shoot up a school. Israel said he has placed two deputies on restricted duty while the department looks into whether they mishandled tips about the suspect. Peter Weber
CNN's Anderson Cooper swats down the 'sick' Parkland conspiracy theories, aided by student David Hogg
There were four more funerals Tuesday for students slain last week in Parkland, Florida. But "as these kids buried their friends, some sick conspiracy theories have been cropping up," Anderson Cooper said on CNN Tuesday night. One claims the student survivors demanding new gun laws are "crisis actors" and another insists student David Hogg is a gun-grabbing "pawn" of the FBI.
"While we'd normally be reluctant to even give these conspiracy theories any oxygen at all," Donald Trump Jr. rewteeted the FBI one, making it "newsworthy," Cooper said. "We'd love to talk to Don Jr. about why he did that, why he is, by extension, attacking these kids who just buried their friends, but it turns out he's in India promoting his father's real estate empire." Instead, he had on Hogg and his father, former FBI employee Kevin Hogg. David Hogg called the conspiracy theories "unbelievable," said Don Jr.'s retweet was "disgusting to me," and judged it "hilarious" that anybody would think his dog-cuddling dad is pulling his strings.
In Cooper's panel discussion, Jack Kingston insisted he "would never say" that the kids are crisis actors, but he did repeat his more respectable conspiracy theory about George Soros controlling the Parkland students. "It would shock me if they did a nationwide rally and the pro–gun control left took their hands off it," he said.
— Anderson Cooper 360° (@AC360) February 21, 2018
"When you say something like that, it's so bad, and I'm going to tell you why it's bad," Van Jones told Kingston. But Parkland student Sarah Chadwick had already beaten him to the punch. Peter Weber
Hey Jack! Just wanted to let you know that, yes! Us 17yrs really are planning a nationwide rally! It’s crazy what determination, and a strong work ethic can lead to! But I mean you have neither of those things so I wouldn’t expect you to understand. https://t.co/SM6BThmIqv
— Sarah Chadwick// #NEVERAGAIN (@sarahchad_) February 20, 2018
It appears Dallas officials aren't the only ones rethinking the National Rifle Association's May meeting in Texas. Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) was listed as a featured speaker at the NRA's leadership forum, Steve Bousquet wrote at The Tampa Bay Times on Tuesday, and his "office confirmed the invitation, but said no decision has been made on whether he will attend." By Wednesday morning, as a Florida Daily Kos diarist noted, Scott was no longer on the NRA's list of speakers.
— Nicole C. Morris (@rockstaresquire) February 20, 2018
The NRA calls its annual conference "a must stop for candidates seeking the highest levels of elective office," Bousquet notes, and Scott, a featured speaker at its 2017 conference, is one of the group's favorites. After Scott pushed through a number of laws loosening gun restrictions, the NRA gave him "its highest compliment, an A-plus rating, as the NRA flooded Florida homes with millions of mailers to help Scott clinch re-election four years ago." After last week's school shooting in Parkland, Florida, Bousquet says, "suddenly, the NRA's A-plus rating looks like an albatross, a potential drag on Scott's expected run for the U.S. Senate." Peter Weber