5 Things We’ve Learned About The Parkland Shooting You Won’t Hear From Most Media

5 Things We’ve Learned About The Parkland Shooting You Won’t Hear From Most Media

After the shooting last year, the media pushed a gun narrative. In the year following, that myth has been dispelled and then some.
Nicole Russell
By

It’s been almost a year since a young man entered Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, and killed 17 students with a gun. After the media and Democrats pushed a narrative that the problem was merely a lack of gun control, much of the world moved on. But research, reports, and investigations that occurred this last year have proven it’s not that simple.

Not surprisingly, what we have learned about the tragedy in Parkland has nothing to do with a lack of gun control, nor does it even point to gun problems in the United States. The mainstream media will not admit this, or follow up on what we have learned since Parkland, because it does not align with their narrative.

So, here are some of the truths discovered since then — many in the last two weeks, and many of which are still unfolding.

1. The Broward County Sheriff’s Department Was Ill-equipped

If local journalists have learned anything, it’s that Broward County Sheriff staff were not equipped to handle such a tragic event, both due to lack of training and lack of courage. Several staff members have been fired or resigned due to this in the past month.

To start with, when the Broward County Sheriff’s Department received the 911 call, many members of law enforcement simply did not act quickly, either out of fear, lack of training, or cowardice. NBC News reports this could be in part due to the department’s active-shooter policy, which stated that deputies “may,” rather than “shall,” proceed into an active-shooter scene. Even so, some vague wording should not have kept armed, trained law enforcement from bombarding an area where a teenager was wielding a gun.

The Sun-Sentinel reports “seven Broward deputies, including the school resource officer, heard shots, but none ran into the school to confront and kill the shooter …” One of those people is Broward Deputy Josh Stambaugh. He arrived at the Parkland shooting and, via his body cam, the public can hear he could hear shots were being fired.

He arrived at the scene and took a full minute to put his vest on. Despite the fact that this happened nearly one year ago, video footage was only just now released to the public. If you really want to get angry, turn up your volume. As Stambaugh slowly prepares to do nothing, shots can be heard from his body cam.

Jan Jordan, the captain formerly in charge of the Parkland division, finally resigned this last month after recognizing her failure to act. In this clip, you can hear Sheriff Scott Israel describe that essentially Jordan was hired because she was a woman and would balance out the team’s mostly male staff.

Jordan has since been described as“overwhelmed,” “ineffective,” and “not engaged with the problem.” It should not have taken this long to begin to unravel the absolute ineffectiveness or cowardice of the Broward County Sheriff’s Department — and now that it has been, it should be front page news.

2. The Sheriff’s Department Continues to Refuse Responsibility

Although several members of the Broward County Sheriff’s department have resigned or been fired, many are still refusing to own up to their part in this tragedy. Scot Peterson is one of those people. He was the school resource officer on duty that day. Peterson has received incredible heat for his failure to react swiftly or to apprehend the shooter in any way.

In September, new surveillance footage surfaced of Peterson’s movements outside the school, which essentially show “he took cover and did nothing to confront the gunman.”

During the ordeal inside the freshman building, Peterson called over the radio for intersections to be blocked, which members of the commission said was precisely the wrong tactic when an active shooter is busy killing people. He failed to provide an initial radio report about the shootings to the Sheriff’s Office, letting minutes pass in silence. Peterson told officers to stay at least 500 feet from the building.

Peterson and others arriving to the scene should have charged in following the sound of gunshots. Investigations showed from the time shots were fired until the building was secured, Peterson staged himself about 69 feet from the building, where the shooter remained active, and never entered. Radio commands show he repeatedly told other officers to shut down traffic in the area and guard intersections. This is not what law enforcement should do when there is an active shooter at a school. Israel condemned Peterson’s lack of action days following the shooting.

Peterson gave one interview over the summer where he told families he was “sorry” and his inaction was not a result of a lack of bravery. Instead, he said he didn’t know which building shots were coming from (the campus is large). But that contradicts his own radio commands, where he tells incoming officers he hears shots coming from Building 1200.

Now, CBS Miami reports, “The disgraced Broward Sheriff’s Deputy who was the school resource officer at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School” — Peterson — says “he fears for his safety.” Andrew Pollack is the father of Meadow Pollack, a Parkland student who was shot nine times and killed. He filed a wrongful death law suit against Peterson. Since the shooting, Pollack has become an ambassador of school safety — and worked to uncover what went wrong that day.

Since Pollack’s filing, the deputy is trying to delay his Dec. 17th deposition. He is also asking that whenever the deposition is held Pollack and several others be kept away. He launched a GoFundMe account to pay for his legal fees and claimed he’s being harassed. Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter Jaime was also killed that day, accuses him of simply refusing to take responsibility, yet again. It’s not hard to see why these parents would feel this way.

Peterson is no longer with the sheriff’s department, but will reportedly receive a pension worth more than $100,000 annually.

Sgt. Brian Miller was initially the highest-ranking officer at Stoneman Douglas. He has been placed on paid suspension and was told to surrender his gun, badge, and car, pending further investigation. The Sun-Sentinel reports he also froze.

“He sat up on Holmberg Road for 10 minutes,” said Bob Gualtieri, the Pinellas County sheriff. “He heard gunshots and he didn’t move. He never got on the radio. He was the first supervisor on the scene, and he never moved, even after deputies and officers were going into that building.”

Like much of the other information regarding the entire department, these acts of cowardice and efforts to hide them are only just now coming out in November and December, nine months following the event.

3. Obama Policies Hid the Real Threat

Because of his very checkered past, the shooter was involved in a program called PROMISE, an Obama-era program that gives students a second chance after disciplinary problems. PROMISE — Preventing Recidivism through Opportunities, Mentoring, Intervention, Support, and Education — gives school administrators leeway in dealing with troubled kids. The Obama administration lauded it, and the school district was awarded $54 million in grants from the $4 billion ‘Race to the Top’ initiative.

Because of this leniency, despite dozens of red flags, the Parkland shooter was never arrested, but given second chance after second chance, and his punishments were reduced. He threatened kids, threatened teachers, took ammunition to school and the information was merely noted — no action taken. This was directly due to Obama administration policies that pushed schools to counsel, rather than punish, dangerous and misbehaving students.

Organizations are finally started to notice the detrimental effects. Here’s Politico: “Teachers said that such policies keep dangerous children in schools, posing a physical threat to students and staff and creating a disruptive learning environment.”

The fact that the shooter fell under the umbrella of PROMISE, a liberal program offering hugs rather than disciplinary action, means many parents from Parkland cannot hug their own child today. It’s disgraceful that following the shooting, practically the only thing the mainstream media discussed was gun control, not the fact that the shooter exhibited warning bells galore that were all ignored as a result of federal and local school discipline policies.

4. School Officials Also Continue to Refuse Responsibility

In November, the public is learning how little the Broward County schools are willing to step up and take responsibility for failing to keep their students safe. In fact, they’ve not only failed to, they have actively tried to hide their role.

In a truly mind-boggling article in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel headlined, “Hide, deny, spin, threaten: How the school district tried to mask failures that led to Parkland shooting,” the publication reported that following the shooting, Broward schools hired a woman named Sarah Brady for “crisis PR.” She not only disdained the press, saying they asked “wasteful questions,” but together, she and the schools also sought to “keep the people from finding out what went wrong.” The Sun-Sentinel reports:

After promising an honest assessment of what led to the shooting, the district instead hired a consultant whose primary goal, according to school records, was preparing a legal defense. Then the district kept most of those findings from the public.

The district also spent untold amounts on lawyers to fight the release of records and nearly $200,000 to pay public relations consultants who advised administrators to clam up, the Sun Sentinel found.

The Broward County school system was so dedicated to hiding any information that might lead to clarity and truth of what led up to that fateful day, that journalists and parents of slain students had to sue to see bombshell documents that should have already been public.

Even now, almost nine months later, “few people have been held accountable — or even identified — for mishandling security and failing to react to signs that the troubled Cruz could erupt. Only two low-level security monitors have been fired,” the Sun-Sentinel reports. Four staff members, higher up on the totem pole — including three assistant principals — who knew more information and could be held accountable have been transferred out without any punitive measures or explanations.

Even after some staff were reprimanded, other staff — and even students! — tried to stage a “walk-out” so they could return, despite failing to do their duties.

School officials should not have to pay forever for this tragic day, but the ones responsible need to own up and take responsibility for their actions.

5. Schools Ignored Warnings about the Shooter

Just after the shooting, there were a few news reports of a few students trying to vocalize the fact that the shooter had a history of mental instability, an obsession with firearms, and had publicly voiced his deranged plans to kill his fellow classmates. These concerns were pushed aside by much of the mainstream media, which flocked to Parkland to cover the story in favor of the more convenient narrative that more gun control would have discouraged the shooter. Eventually, attention on the families and their healing became the focus and the days before the shooter were all but forgotten.

Superintendent Robert Runcie said the school district “has made no attempt to conceal information except when lawyers said it could not be released.” Following the shooting, the district’s law firm hired a contractor, the Collaborative Educational Network of Tallahassee, which did not assess security concerns, but simply analyzed whether Broward schools had satisfied the law in educating the shooter.

The Sun Sentinel obtained and published an uncensored copy of their report and found what anyone paying attention could have probably predicted: “Cruz was deeply troubled; the district improperly withdrew support he needed; he asked for additional services; and the district bungled his request, leaving him spinning without help.”

Additionally, the paper found more information, which was not included in the consultant’s report or shared by the school district, such as the following:

  • “I’m a bad kid. I want to kill,” Cruz ominously told a teacher in middle school.
  • “I would rather be on the street killing animals and setting fires,” Cruz told one teacher in October 2013 — more than four years before the rampage.
  • “I strongly feel that Nikolas is a danger to the students and faculty at this school,” Cruz’s eighth-grade language arts teacher wrote in a behavioral evaluation. “I do not feel that he understands the difference between his violent video games and reality.”

In just the last few weeks, journalists and the public have learned how many warning signs were in front of the eyes of the Broward County Sheriff’s Department, and the MSD High School — and just how many were ignored or hidden. If even one of these red flags had been heeded, the outcome might have been different.

The most compelling thing about all this information — other than how devastatingly tragic it is — is that none of this points to gun control as a problem or solution. If anything, law enforcement, school protocol, and government bureaucracy were strange allies in the push to avoid brave action, obfuscate the truth, and keep parents from finally discovering what happened, so they can heal. Hopefully, this information can begin to help school districts around the country avoid making the same mistakes.

Nicole Russell is a senior contributor to The Federalist. She lives in northern Virginia with her four kids. Follow her on Twitter @russell_nm.

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