In the wake of news reports indicating as many as four Broward County Sheriff’s deputies had their pistols drawn and were taking cover behind their vehicles after an active shooter went on a killing spree at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, a disgusted President Trump vowed he would have stormed the school to save the kids – even if he had no weapon.
“I really believe I’d run in there even if I didn’t have a weapon,” Trump said Monday during a governors meeting at the White House on school safety.
In the middle of the bloodshed, Coral Springs police officers arrived on the scene. Officers told CNN that the armed school resource officer and three other Broward County Sheriff’s deputies hadn’t entered the school by the time they arrived. One source told CNN the deputies were behind their vehicles with their weapons drawn, and they didn’t appear to join police as they entered the school.
“I got to watch some deput[ies] performing this weekend,” Trump said, criticizing the sheriff’s response. “They weren’t exactly Medal of Honor winners, all right? The way they performed was, frankly, disgusting.
“They were listening to what was going on, the one in particular (the school resource officer). Then you had three others … ” Trump said. “The way they performed was really a disgrace.”
When CNN’s Jake Tapper asked Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel if the deputies had been ordered to stand down, Israel wouldn’t answer the question.
“This is an active shooter, we push to the entry, to the killer, we get in and we take out the threat,” Israel told CNN.
Tapper asked if the deputies had been given a stand-down order.
“I can’t tell you anything about that,” the sheriff said. “I haven’t heard that … right now, Jake, the focus of this agency is on a successful prosecution of the killer. We will get to the truth, but right now, people could have conjecture. People can act on rumors. And everyone has a right to their own opinion.”
Tapper pressed Israel, asking why deputies hadn’t entered the school, as Coral Springs officers claimed.
“Coral Springs arrived, the group of Coral Springs officers went in, about four minutes, I think we’re projecting, after the killer left the campus,” Israel said. “I understand they have statements they’re giving us about the other three, four, five deputies. At this point, we have no reason to believe anyone acted incorrectly or correctly. Everyone’s entitled to their own opinion, but nobody’s entitled to their own set of facts. We don’t know what those deputies heard. Perhaps they did something by what they heard from Peterson and that would be outlined in interviews.”
WND requested comment from the Broward County Sheriff’s Department, asking whether the deputies had received a stand-down order at any point during the shooting. The request for comment hadn’t been returned at the time of this report.
Sheriff Israel, who in 2012 called himself a “proud member of Team Obama,” blasted the National Rifle Association, claiming it is not “standing up” for students nationwide during a CNN town hall on Feb. 20. He also claimed he has offered “amazing leadership to this agency.”
On Sunday, Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran called for Florida Gov. Rick Scott to suspend Sheriff Israel for “incompetence and dereliction of duty.” At least 73 other lawmakers support Corcoran’s request, which was detailed in a letter posted to Twitter.
Corcoran said the sheriff and his deputies “ignored repeated warning signs about the violent, erratic, threatening, and antisocial behavior of Nikolas Jacob Cruz” for years before the school shooting. He said “they did nothing” when Cruz became violent toward his mother after she had taken away his video games. In 2016, Corcoran said, deputies received a tip that Cruz had posted a threat on Instagram saying he’d shoot up his school, and “nothing was done.”
And in November 2017, Cruz’s family asked deputies to recover his weapons after the death of his mother, but “nothing was done.” Also in November, the deputies received two other calls. Cruz’s host family reported that Cruz had hidden a weapon in their backyard. The next week, the department received a tip from a caller in Massachusetts who warned that Cruz was collecting guns and knives and could be a “school shooter in the making.” But, Corcoran said, “nothing was done.”
Corcoran said the school resource officer at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, deputy Scot Peterson, was not provided with “state-of-the-art active shooter tactical training that meets the national standard” and was “ill-prepared to respond effectively to the situation and neutralize Cruz.”
“Instead, Deputy Peterson took up a position outside the school building rather than entering the building to engage Cruz,” Corcoran said. “Deputy Peterson and three Broward County Sheriff’s deputies stayed outside of the school while they believed the shooting was still underway. As Coral Springs police officers entered the school, all four of Sheriff Israel’s deputies, including Deputy Peterson, appeared to remain outside.
“Sheriff Israel’s fundamental duty is to keep the peace and protect the citizens of Broward County. He has the power and responsibility to appoint highly qualified deputies and to ensure they receive state-of-the-art training. Sheriff Israel failed to maintain a culture of alertness, vigilance, and thoroughness amongst his deputies. Sheriff Israel failed to fulfill his duty to ensure that all of his deputies have the necessary active shooter tactical training. As a result of Sheriff Israel’s failures, students and teachers died.”