Survivors, Coral Springs sergeant recalls Parkland school massacre

Testimony continues during day 2 of ex-deputy’s trial

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Coral Springs Sgt. Jeffrey Heinrich testified in Broward County court about what he remembered during the 2018 Valentine’s Day massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas on Thursday, the second day of a former deputy’s trial.

Heinrich, a witness for the prosecution, said he was unarmed and off duty while volunteering to water the high school’s baseball field when he heard what he thought were firecrackers.

Heinrich’s son was a student at the school and his wife worked there as a physical education teacher. He said it wasn’t until he saw students injured that he realized that there had been a shooting.

“My training is that you run toward the sound of gunshots. It was just instinct,” Heinrich said.

For not confronting the shooter and taking cover while armed as a Broward Sheriff’s Office deputy, Scot Peterson is facing seven counts of felony child neglect related to the seven who were shot on the third floor of the 1200 building.

Three out of the seven survived with injuries. Anthony Borges and Kyle Laman, both survivors who still deal with physical and emotional pain, testified on Thursday in court. Laman was in tears when he saw the surveillance video and Borges appeared angry.

“Somebody needs to be here -- a police, an adult, someone,” Laman said.

Laman showed jurors where a high velocity bullet from the shooter’s AR-15-style rifle shattered his right foot, leaving him in permanent pain.

“I thought I was going to die,” he said.

“I was thinking, ‘Where is the help? Where are the cops?’” Borges testified.

Borges was shot five times in total.

“I used to live in Venezuela so I knew what gunfire sounded like,” he said. “If I am an officer and had a gun, I would go inside and save everyone.”

Amid the chaos, Heinrich said he heard a police officer warn others: “They are shooting at us!”

Heinrich said another Coral Springs colleague handed him a bullet vest and a gun, but since there was so much confusion and law enforcement was already inside, they had both decided to stay outside of the building to avoid friendly fire.

The defense during cross examination of state witnesses hit key elements to Peterson’s defense -- that it was hard to know exactly where the shots were coming from and that there was a pronounced echo in the area.

“You believe he was doing everything he could that day?” Peterson’s attorney asked retired MSD staff member Brian Staubly.

“Yes,” he responded.

The defense attorney also worked to prove that his client is not a coward.

“Tactical position of cover -- that is not being a coward, correct?” he asked Heinrich.

“Correct,” Heinrich responded.


Borges’s testimony during the shooter’s penalty phase

Laman‘s testimony during the shooter’s penalty phase

About the Authors:

Christina returned to Local 10 in 2019 as a reporter after covering Hurricane Dorian for the station. She is an Edward R. Murrow Award-winning journalist and previously earned an Emmy Award while at WPLG for her investigative consumer protection segment "Call Christina."

The Emmy Award-winning journalist joined the Local 10 News team in 2013. She wrote for the Miami Herald for more than 9 years and won a Green Eyeshade Award.