Elementary resource officer rushed to Parkland high school
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — A resource officer at a Florida elementary school jumped into action Feb. 14 after hearing a colleague scream “shots fired” at a nearby high school where 17 were killed, reports released Friday said.
In response to continuing public records requests from local and national news outlets, the Broward Sheriff’s Office released a new batch of deputy reports about the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.
The details come after the Stoneman Douglas resource officer faced intense criticism for not entering the building during the shooting. He has since resigned.
The Riverglades Elementary School resource officer drove 4 miles (6 km) to the school, pulled an AR-15 from the trunk and changed it from “ammo ready” to “threat ready” mode.”
As the deputy moved toward the freshmen building, the deputy saw one victim dead on the ground, someone the deputy knew personally. The report doesn’t name the deputy or victim. Many details were blacked out in the 30-page document dump.
The Riverglades resource officer used a golf cart to drive an injured male to a triage area. The victim had trouble sitting up and “needed to be supported.” The deputy reported leaning over the seat and holding onto the victim until they arrived.
“I only gave him words of encouragement that he was going to survive” the deputy said. The victim didn’t reply.
The deputy then returned to the freshmen building, searching for the suspect and securing the building before extricating other victims from the smoke-filled crime scene.
Once finished, the deputy’s arms, uniform and rifle were covered in the victims’ blood.
A former student, Nikolas Cruz, 19, is charged with killing 17 people and wounding 17 others in the Feb. 14 mass shooting.
The newly released documents include narratives from about 10 deputies. Several described the carnage they witnessed as they searched the school.
One responding deputy reported hearing gunshots after arriving at the high school. The deputy was responding to radio reports of an active shooter from the high school’s resource officer, now-former deputy Scot Peterson.
Two students screamed “active shooter!” as they ran past the deputy, and shortly behind them was teacher helping a student who had been shot in the leg.
The deputy went to the building where the shooter had opened fire and saw a body just outside. Another officer checked the person’s pulse and proclaimed him dead as several officers from the Coral Springs Police Department rushed toward the building. Officers were coming in from the opposite side of the building so, worried about crossfire, the Broward deputy attended to the body nearby but also found no pulse.
“He appeared to have an injury to the back of his head,” the deputy wrote.
Another responding Broward deputy described joining with other officers when at the building where the shooting occurred.
“I could see smoke in the air and victims on the ground,” the deputy wrote.
The deputy and the others began immediately assisting wounded people. On the third floor, they found three victims on the ground, one of whom was trying to lift his arm.
“We went to the victim and brought him back to the west side stair case where he was evacuated,” the deputy wrote. “The other two victims were deceased.”
The officers began evacuating the wounded and others as quickly as possible. Several deputies described smelling smoke and seeing bullet shell casings on the building’s floor.
“We found one adult woman hiding in a locked office,” one deputy wrote in a report. “Some windows had to be shattered in order to gain entry into some of the locked classrooms where students and faculty were found to be hiding.”
After SWAT teams cleared the building of students and had it secure, the deputies and officers were still surrounded by the bodies of the fallen teachers and students.
“As I walked out the door I could see the body of (redacted) to my left and an unidentified girl to my right,” a deputy wrote. “Both were deceased.”
A deputy responding from nearby Tamarac was among the first officers to enter Building 12.
“I entered ... and immediately detected the odor of gun powder and observed several people lying in the hallway in pools of blood,” the deputy wrote.”
Associated Press writers David Fischer in Miami and Jason Dearen in Gainesville contributed to this story.