Press "Enter" to skip to content

'Shots Fired': Police Radio Calls Shed New Light on Fla. Shooting Response

Newly released police radio calls are helping paint a clearer picture of what happened when police say Nikolas Cruz entered Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and opened fire on students and staff.The Broward County Sheriff’s Office released a detailed timeline Thursday, showing officers’ communication and response during and after the shooting. The first warning that someone was firing shots inside the high school came from a 911 call to Coral Springs Communications Center about 2:22 p.m., roughly a minute after the shooting started. Coral Springs Fire officials were then dispatched. Fla. School Shooting Suspect Withdraws Not Guilty Plea Another minute goes by before the first law enforcement officer, School Resource Deputy Scot Peterson, made a call on his radio.”Be advised we have possible, could be firecrackers, I think we have shots fired, possible shots fired by the 1200 building,” Peterson said. Fla. School Shooting Survivor Hailed as Hero Back in ICU At the time of Peterson’s first radio call, the shooting had been going on for about two minutes. The school fire alarm was also going off, apparently activated by smoke or dust from the shooting itself, officials noted.Records provided by the Broward Sheriff’s Office show Peterson stood 40 yards away from the 1200 building, where the shooting was happening. While he was taking cover, he was communicating over the police radio to BSO. Are Bulletproof Shelters the Answer to Gun Violence? “I need to shut down Stoneman Douglas, the intersection,” Peterson said about 2:24 p.m. “I’m over on the south side by the 700 building.Recorded BSO communication doesn’t show that Peterson ever told anyone he was going into the building or needed backup to be able to enter it. And two responding BSO deputies follow Peterson’s instructions to block roads. No one talks about going in.That’s not how BSO deputies are trained to react when there is an active shooter inside a building, according to Colonel Jack Dale, who heads criminal investigations and internal affairs for the agency.“First, interrupt the shooter, and that is the primary mission of an active shooter response,” said Col. Dale regarding the newly released radio traffic, timeline and training of the agency’s deputies.Col. Dale said setting a perimeter is secondary.“When an active shooter ceases, then those secondary responses become appropriate,” he said.Four minutes into the shooting that lasted approximately six minutes, Peterson is again heard on the police radio calling for the surrounding area to be shut down.”Get the school locked down, gentlemen,” he is heard saying on his radio.Though Dale says Peterson’s actions were contrary to the training of BSO deputies, Peterson’s attorney argues that is “patently untrue.” Joseph A. DiRuzzo said Peterson thought the shots were being fired outside the school, in which case an officer is “to seek cover and assess the situation in order to communicate what one observes to other law enforcement.””Mr. Peterson is confident that his actions on that day were appropriate under the circumstances and that the video (together with the eye-witness testimony of those on the scene) will exonerate him of any sub-par performance,” DiRuzzo said in a statement.But nearly 20 seconds after calling for a school lockdown, Peterson identifies that he heard shots “by, inside the 1200 building.”He continues: “We’re locking down the school right now. Make sure there’s no pedestrian traffic anywhere on Holmberg Road.”BSO says the investigation, including into Peterson’s response to the shooting, is “active and continuing.” Sheriff Scott Israel had said that Peterson went against protocol and should have gone into the building. Peterson resigned that same day.Communication shows that at the time of Peterson’s call for a lockdown, students are running from the school and 911 lines are “blowing up.”Another forty seconds pass when the shooter moves to the teacher’s lounge on the 1200 building’s third floor, where BSO says he fired shots through the glass window.”I hear shots fired. Shots fired!” Peterson says.Seconds later, the shooting stops. No other BSO deputies or Coral Springs officers report they are at the school’s 1200 building.BSO says video inside the school stairwell shows Cruz dropped his weapon at 2:27 p.m. and exited the building with terrified, fleeing students.At almost the exact moment that Cruz is exiting, Peterson is back on his police radio.”Broward, do not approach the 12 or 13-hundred building,” he said at 2:28 p.m. “Stay at least 500 feet away at this point. Stay away from the 12 and 13-hundred building.”Dale explained that Peterson’s communication with fellow officers was appropriate for the situation.”For the initial stages of the event, Peterson is the eyes on the ground so it’s appropriate for him to relay that information and direct responding personnel,” Dale said. The BSO records and radio calls show it was not Captain Jan Jordan who told officers to stay away from the school’s building, as initially reported. It was now-former Deputy Peterson, and by the time he advised officers to stay away, Cruz was already outside the school.Captain Jordan, who took criticism for initial reports that she told responding deputies to set a perimeter, is the commander of BSO’s Parkland District. She does not appear on the radio until 2:31 p.m.It wasn’t until 2:29 p.m. that the first law enforcement officers, two deputies from BSO, try to enter the school. They attempt to go into the nearly 1300 building, but were unable to get in.It was 11 minutes after the shooting began when the first team of officers from Coral Springs and deputies from BSO entered the 12-hundred building. At that point, Cruz had gotten a five-minute head start to get away.“I don’t know that any chaotic scene like this ever goes perfectly,” Col. Dale said in defense of the officers’ responses. One issue that made the response more chaotic, BSO said, is that BSO and Coral Springs operate on different radio channels. “Anything that occurred on the Coral Springs channel would not be able to heard by the (BSO) deputies on the scene, and vice versa,” said Dale. “They would not have the information that was broadcast on the BSO channel.”Broward County says its current radio system is “nearing its end of life,” and it is scheduled to be replaced in 2019.BSO says some of its radio communications were affected, known as “throttling,” because of how many people were using the radios. It led to some people not being able to transmit or receive messages on the radio.In addition, BSO reports that Peterson and school security employees were communicating on a separate radio from the police. The school radio traffic was not recorded.All cell phone calls from the school were routed to the Coral Springs 911 dispatchers. Coral Springs then sends those police-related calls to BSO.BSO says its regional communications center received 71 calls between 2:22 pm and 3:35 pm.  Only one of those calls came from inside the school. Coral Springs received 86 calls during the same time. BSO says they received information on three of those calls.Photo Credit: Getty Images
Source: NBC San Diego

Be First to Comment


    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

    Call Us