Two new developments have emerged with regard the Parkland, Florida School shooting on Wednesday, February 14, 2018.
We have a new police audio and a report about Nikolas Cruz’s past mental state.
New sheriff’s department audio
On March 8, the Miami Herald released an audio from the Broward County Sheriff’s despatch office. The recently retired — previously suspended — Deputy Sheriff Scot Peterson can be heard:
“Do not approach the 12 or 1300 building, stay at least 500 feet away,” a panicked Peterson shouted as people screamed in the background.
This is important information (emphases mine):
The records appear to support Broward Sheriff Scott Israel’s contention that Peterson, a longtime school resource officer, should have entered Building 12 to engage Cruz and try to prevent deaths. They also appear to show that other deputies may have refrained from rushing into the school at the direction of Peterson and a Parkland captain. The response by the agency has been the subject of national scrutiny, and is currently under review by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
Jeff Bell, the president of BSO’s police union, welcomed the release of the audio and timeline.
“It certainly backs up that he never went into the school,” Bell said of Peterson. “At one point he says to keep back 500 feet. Why would he say that?”
The article has more on the police timeline.
Former New York City policeman and former Secret Service agent Dan Bongino appeared on Fox News to discuss the audio. BPR has a report of what he told Fox’s Sandra Smith:
“Well, Sandra, after Columbine, the entire training to active shooter response incidents was overhauled,” Bongino said. “The idea of a perimeter and a hostage negotiation went out the window. After Columbine, all the training methods were to respond immediately to the problem.”
“Having said that, there are multiple systems out there,” he continued. “The alert system is one of them. There are a number of systems, some of them respond to the problem by yourself. Some teach respond as a team and in tandem.”
“Let me be clear on this,” he said. “None of these systems used now in this post-Columbine era teach set up a perimeter and stay 500 feet away from the building. None. None that I know of. You know, email me if you see otherwise. I have never heard of anything like this. It is a puzzling, puzzling piece of audio that 911 call.”
Nikolas Cruz’s high school therapy files
On March 9, the Miami Herald published a detailed article about Nikolas Cruz’s therapy files:
Nearly four years before school shooter Nikolas Cruz gunned down 17 students and educators at a Parkland high school, he confided in a Therapist that he saw himself in a dream drenched in human blood.
A May 3, 2014, notation in a Broward County schools psychiatric file said Cruz “reported [a dream] last week of him killing people and covered in blood. He smiled and told the therapist that sometimes he says things for shock value.”
After Cruz’s disclosure to his therapist at the alternative Cross Creek School, administrators developed a “safety plan” to ensure the welfare of Cruz and others while the teen was on summer vacation. The plan included provisions for removing “all sharp objects from the home” and encouraging the youth to “verbalize what the problem is.”
That year, his mother Lynda, who died in November 2017, and school officials were concerned about Cruz’s interest in owning a gun:
At the time, Lynda Cruz was considering buying the teen a pellet gun for his birthday. A different therapist who appears to have visited the family at their home suggested the mom develop a “plan” in which the youth would be allowed to buy a gun if he was able to “earn it” with good behavior. There was “a plan in place at home in order to control his use of the pellet gun.”
Cruz’s school therapist, however, expressed reservations. “Parent was advised against getting him a gun (pellet) or classes for his birthday,” the September notation said. “Parent advised to restrict access to any weapon.”
The therapy files also underscore Cruz’s strong desire to be sent to a regular high school. He frequently discussed transferring with his therapist but also expressed anxiety about getting mainstreamed.
In some sessions, the therapist described Cruz as “receptive” or noted that he’d had “positive” behavior at school. The therapist role-played with Cruz to teach him how to interact with his peers and avoid conflict. But following other sessions, the therapist noted troubling behavior at school and at home.
Cruz once described his ‘perfect summer’:
Under the heading “What my perfect summer would be,” Cruz wrote about “buying some type of gun and shooting at targets that I set up with large amounts of ammo just for fun for hours,” stopping only when he got bored or ran out of ammunition. Cruz said he also wanted to get a job and make money “so I can get things that I want for myself [instead] of come to this time wasting school that support stuped [sic] selfish children that I don’t care about and gets in the way of my chances of leaving this place.”
Cruz also wrote about his loneliness. “I will never be happy with my life I have no money or [sic] freinds,” he wrote. He complained about his “annoying mother who won’t leave me alone.”
He was also extremely violent at home:
In preparation for a summer 2014 recess, Cruz’s school therapist and psychiatrist jointly wrote a letter to another one of the teen’s psychiatrists articulating a host of serious concerns. “At home, he continues to be aggressive and destructive with minimal provocation,” the letter said. “For instance, he destroyed his television after losing a video game that he was playing. Nikolas has a hatchet that he uses to chop up a dead tree in his backyard. Mom has not been able to locate that hatchet as of lately.”
“When upset he punches holes in the walls and has used sharp tools to cut up the upholstery on the furniture and carve holes in the walls of the bathroom,” the letter added.
The article says that Cruz has withdrawn a not-guilty plea in order to receive a sentence of life in prison. Unless a plea bargain can be worked out:
Cruz, who was ordered held without bond Friday on the additional attempted murder counts, now faces the death penalty.
He was never going to turn out well. What can be done with youngsters like this?