Broward County Sheriff’s Office deputies hid outside of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School while a gunman went on a shooting spree, according to Coral Springs Police reports released Tuesday.
The reports confirm earlier allegations from Coral Springs Police that at least three BSO deputies hid behind their vehicles with weapons drawn as the gunman killed 17 people.
“I saw approximately four Broward County Sheriff’s Office vehicles parked [on the road outside the school] with their personnel taking up exterior positions behind their vehicles. I drove up just west of the campus building 1200, exited my vehicle, grabbed my AR-15 rifle and donned on my tactical/medical gear,” Coral Springs officer Bryan Wilkins wrote in one of the reports.
“As I was advancing on foot through the chain-link fence, I was advised by an unknown BSO Deputy taking cover behind a tree, ‘he is on the third floor,” the report continued.
Wilkins says he then approached the building with Coral Springs Detective Gil Monzon and an unknown BSO deputy. By the time they entered the building, the gunman had already fled the scene.
“While advancing towards the building I saw numerous bullet hole to multiple windows and doors to building 1200,” Wilkins additionally wrote. “I smelled a strong odor of gunpowder and saw more bodies of juveniles further east down the hall.”
In a separate report, Sergeant Nicolas Mazzei wrote that he passed several Broward deputies “who were taking positions along Holmberg Road” as he drove to the site of the shooting in his patrol car.
Mazzei also wrote that when he and a team of officers entered the building, they were told surveillance video showed the gunman on the second floor. It was later discovered that the video footage was on a 26-minute delay and the gunman had already fled.
BSO deputies didn’t immediately try to locate Cruz or aid his victims, despite being trained to confront active shooters without delay, the report said.
BSO Deputies Ordered to Set up Outside Perimeter, Wait for SWAT
Responding BSO deputies were ordered to set up an outside perimeter of the school by Parkland District Commander Captain Jan Jordan when it was believed that the shooter was still inside. The BSO training manual lists the first priority for deputies as finding and stopping the shooter rather than securing the scene.
One officer from the Margate Police Department who also responded to the shooting said that when he arrived on the scene, a BSO deputy told him to “Standby, SWAT is on the way,” according to a report released by the Margate Police Department last week.
“I informed the deputy that I was a SRT/SWAT operator and there was no time to wait,” wrote Margate officer Chad Ryen. “Based on my training and experience, I made the determination to make entry into the school.”
School resource officer Scot Peterson, the first BSO employee who received criticism for not entering the building, resigned after Sheriff Scott Israel said he did not engage Cruz and remained outside during the shooting. Peterson told his lawyer he was unsure where the gunfire was coming from.
Israel has denied Coral Springs’ officers’ claims that other Broward County deputies also failed to enter the building when they arrived.
BSO said it could not confirm the reports from Coral Springs and Margate that other deputies waited, reports Miami Herald.
“There are different accounts of what happened,” BSO spokeswoman Keyla Concepcion wrote in an email. “The only two [law enforcement officers] that have been confirmed as not making entry are BSO Deputy Scot Peterson and that Coral Springs PD Officer Burton.”
Concepcion was referring to Coral Springs officer Tim Burton, the first person from his department on the scene, who has been credited by his commanders with providing information that led other officers to enter the building.
Burton says he did not immediately enter the building because Peterson told him to watch out in case the shooter was planning an ambush.
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