Ultimately the responsibility for the deaths of 14 students and three educators at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School lays at the feet of the shooter, Nikolas Cruz. No evidence, barring another or a different shooter, can change that.
Yet that fact does not take away from the absolute dereliction of duty by law enforcement. From failing to follow up on detailed tips to now up to four deputies from the Broward County Sherrif’s office were outside the school and not engaging for much of the time Cruz was shooting up the school.
We have known for some time that the FBI was tipped off in January of 2018. Now we know from reports that this woman had called local police in February 2016 and in November of last year. Here is part of how the Sun Sentinel reports on the tips police received about Cruz buying guns while posting photos and disturbing comments online.
“It’s alarming to see these pictures and to know what he’s capable of doing and what could happen,” she said of his Instagram. He also wrote he wants to “kill people,” she told the FBI employee.
The tipster said Cruz had the “mental capacity of a 12- to a 14-year-old” and she gave the FBI employee the address for where Cruz was staying, but she said the man he lives with refuses to return her calls.
The FBI admitted in a statement that they dropped the ball and did not follow-up on the detailed tips they were given just weeks before the shooting.
Now we know that not only was school resource officer Scot Peterson outside the school and not engaging Cruz for more than four minutes but also that three other police officers showed up on scene and did not engage with Cruz.
Since the 1999 Columbine school shooting police forces across North America have revised their protocols for school shootings from waiting for SWAT teams to show up to engaging with active shooters earlier.
On CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday morning, host Jake Tapper pressed Sheriff Scott Israel on why Peterson had not gone in, when Israel knew and why he didn’t disclose that on the CNN Townhall the night before Peterson resigned. Watch below.
As Reuters reports there are now calls for Israel to be removed from office for withholding information. Tapper also played a long clip of a student from the school who was an eye witness to what Peterson did not do.
So let’s get this straight. We have a man that was expelled from school in part for bringing bullets and knives to school, a man who depending on which report you believe had the cops called to his home between 23 and 39 times, a man who had been reported to local police and the FBI with detailed concerns, a man who had posted online under his own name that he wanted to be a “professional school shooter,” and no one put a red flag that would trip the background check on this guy?
I’ve listened to the statement from the lawyer where Cruz bought the AR-15 rifle, he pass the background check and abided by a five day waiting period. No red flags were raised. The gun store owner can’t know who has been in trouble with the law, that is what the background check system is for and in this case as in others it failed.
Then, after Cruz began the carnage that he alone is responsible for, there were not one but apparently four armed police officers outside of the school listening to shots go off, the carnage continue and they did nothing.
If these kinds of faults happen in the system now, explain how more laws or more funding for police would have helped?
There are many problems with the background check system including that many states do not report all of the criminals and mentally ill people that are legally barred from owning guns to the national background check system. There is much to fix.
But those screaming at the NRA are expressing their understandable anger at the wrong bodies.
And if anyone wants to deal with the larger problem of gun violence and deaths in the United States, read the stats on handguns vs rifles and start thinking about real solutions instead of bumper sticker policies that make you feel good but wouldn’t change much.