parkland school shooting
December 18, 2018

A federal judge has ruled neither the Broward County Sheriff's Office nor the local school district had a constitutional duty to protect students during the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, this past February.

U.S. District Judge Beth Bloom dismissed a suit brought by 15 students against the school district, the sheriff's office, school deputy Scot Peterson, and campus monitor Andrew Medina. Bloom held that because the students were not in custody — prison, for example — state agencies have no legal obligation to protect them.

"The claim arises from the actions of [shooter Nikolas] Cruz, a third party, and not a state actor," Bloom wrote in her ruling. "Thus, the critical question the Court analyzes is whether defendants had a constitutional duty to protect plaintiffs from the actions of Cruz," she said, concluding that "for such a duty to exist on the part of defendants, plaintiffs would have to be considered to be in custody."

Bloom's ruling is in line with the Supreme Court's 7-2 decision in Town of Castle Rock v. Gonzales (2005), which held police do not have a constitutional duty to protect people from harm. In that case, SCOTUS determined the obligation does not exist even when police have been repeatedly notified of violation of a restraining order which is supposed to trigger a mandatory arrest. Bonnie Kristian

June 15, 2018

The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School security guard who failed to confront shooter Nikolas Cruz when he spotted him on campus had allegedly sexually harassed at least two students, including one of Cruz's 17 victims, Florida's Sun-Sentinel reports. Andrew Medina was confirmed by video footage to have followed one student to allegedly ask if he could come by her job later "because it was not at school [and] he could flirt with her," an internal report recommending Medina's termination in 2017 found. Medina allegedly also made comments like "you are fine as f---" and "damn Mami" to female students.

Medina was not ultimately fired due in part to a handwritten note at the bottom of the report on his behavior that said "discipline should not be termination but instead a three-day suspension."

Meadow Pollack, who was murdered by Cruz, had accused Medina of harassing her in February 2017, her brother, Hunter Pollack, told BuzzFeed News. "He would call her names like 'gorgeous and sweetheart' and just be a creep," Pollack said. "And when her boyfriend confronted him about it, he threatened him, too."

Meadow's mother went as far as to complain to the school about Medina's behavior, a move Hunter Pollack and his father, Andrew Pollack, only learned after Meadow's death. "What's killing me is that he should have been terminated and he wasn't and he was at that gate," Andrew Pollack said. "We might have had someone who might have done something like call 'Code Red' and instead we had someone with half of a brain who did nothing. And after all this they reassigned him somewhere else where he might act this way to other girls." Jeva Lange

March 19, 2018

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

February 28, 2018

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.

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

February 27, 2018

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

February 26, 2018

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

February 25, 2018

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

February 23, 2018

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

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