MSD Public Safety Commission presents final report to state

Report honors victims; criticizes BSO response to massacre

By Terrell Forney - Reporter, Peter Burke - Local10.com Managing Editor

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission presented its final report to state officials Wednesday in Tallahassee.

The report, which the commission has been working on for nine months, honors the lives of all 14 students and three staff members killed in the shooting, featuring their pictures and a bio before the document shifts to its disturbing details.

A timeline shows that student Martin Duque was the first to be killed Feb. 14 by Nikolas Cruz after the former student entered the campus through an unlocked, unmanned entrance and removed the loaded weapon from his rifle bag.

But among the greatest failures highlighted in the report was that six minutes after the first shots were fired by Cruz, eight Broward Sheriff's Office deputies were in the vicinity of the campus and all heard gunshots, but none of them immediately entered the school to confront the shooter.

School resource Deputy Scot Peterson, who was included in that number, took shelter in a corner for 48 minutes -- a blatant inaction that ultimately forced his resignation.

"I think that this report is a very, very good product," said Max Schachter, whose son, Alex, was killed in the shooting. "There's some issues I still want to go into in more detail."

A 407-page preliminary report released last month also cited a breakdown in security procedures and protocol that contributed to the Valentine's Day mass shooting at the Parkland school.

"Unlocked and opened gates were regularly left unstaffed for long periods of time on the MSDHS campus," the report said. "School administrators cited a lack of personnel as the explanation for the unstaffed and open gates. This explanation is unacceptable as leaving open perimeter gates unstaffed is a breach of effective security protocols."

The 15-member panel was also critical of the Broward Sheriff's Office for its delayed response to the shooting. 

Among the recommendations made are armed assailant training for school personnel, bulletproof glass on classroom windows and arming teachers.

"We've got a lot to do ahead of this. As many questions as we answered, it has now raised new questions and there's a lot we need to explore," Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, who chairs the safety commission, said.

Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel has commended his own leadership in the past, despite growing criticism about management choices, an inadequate radio system and a vaguely written policy on how to respond to armed assailant scenarios.

In an editorial piece, the Sun-Sentinel is even calling for his removal from office.

Cruz's violent and past odd behavior is also examined in the final report. Broward County Public Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie and the Broward County public school system have also been under scrutiny for failing to act on prior warning signs involving Cruz and for leaving the campus wide open on the day the shooter carried out the massacre.

According to the report, there was confusion among students over whether to evacuate or hunker down, which ultimately put some of them in harm's way.

Seventeen people were killed and 17 others were wounded when Cruz entered a building on campus armed with an AR-15 rifle and opened fire. He faces the death penalty if convicted.

The report was submitted to the governor and Florida House and Senate.

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