School shootings have been front-page bait for nearly 30 years. It’s been nearly two decades since Columbine. Nearly ten since Virginia Tech.
And yet official America has learned nearly nothing, and contents itself with waving childrens’ bloody shirts to try to disarm people who didn’t, and never do, do the shooting in the first place.
The Orlando Sun Sentinel has an excellent interactive story showing the extent of the incompetence, breakdowns and bad planning that allowed Nick Cruz to slaughter 17 kids.
And of course, human frailty:
Taylor, the campus monitor, hears gunshots and races up to the second floor. He ducks into a janitor’s closet. Taylor has a radio but does not call a Code Red.
I’ll rarely second guess someone who exhibits what some might call “cowardice” to avoid getting shot. But the fact remains – Parkland’s security depended on a group of unarmed school monitors who failed to even order an alert that might have locked the school down, much less dealt with Cruz.
The story notes that there were heroes present that day…
Athletic director and campus monitor Chris Hixon is already at Building 12. He enters the double doors at the west end of the hall and runs toward Cruz.
Cruz shoots Hixon, who crawls to take cover in a nearby doorway. Cruz finds him about 30 seconds later and shoots him again.
[Social Studies teacher Ernie ]Rospierski flees with 10 students toward a stairwell as Cruz fires down the hall.
Two of the students, Jaime Guttenberg and Peter Wang, are hit. Wang dies in the hallway and Guttenberg in the stairwell, but others get away as Rospierski holds the door closed from inside the stairwell to keep Cruz from advancing.
…but a good plan, competently executed, is a whole lot better for everyone involved that heroes – especially dead ones.
The story is positively heartbreaking – a cascading tragicomedy of avoidable errors, frailty/cowardice, and official negligence.
Note that at any point, any armed response – any – would very likely have caused Cruz’ psychopathic reverie to break, sending him running away or off to a corner to shoot himself, even if it didn’t incapacitate him outright.
The performance of the Broward County Sheriff’s Office – both Scot Peterson and the other officers who responded – comes in for particular contempt. The department, led Sheriff Israel, who turned into an gun control leader to try to cover his own incompetence, covered itself in shame that day.
And yes, Sheriff Israel bears a disproportionate share of the blame. Although six deputies were on scene while the shooting was still going on, they were as useless as door-to-door salespeople – in large part due to policies pushed by Israel:
Since Columbine, officers are taught to rush toward gunshots and neutralize the killer. But the first Broward deputies don’t rush in.
Broward Sheriff Scott Israel later reveals that he personally changed department policy to say that deputies “may” instead of “shall” rush in.
And they lived down to their leadership – at least two BCSO officers went on the radio to urge their fellow officers to stay well clear of the school buildings.
Of course, not all the cops on the scene were useless simps:
Four Coral Springs officers enter through the west doors, where they see Chris Hixon shot. Two officers pull Hixon out of the building and onto a golf cart. He will not survive.
The Coral Springs officers later tell investigators their training was clear – run toward the gunfire.
Coral Springs Officer Raymond Kerner, the school resource officer at nearby J.P. Taravella High School, would tell investigators:
“Basically, what we’re trained to do is just get right to the threat as quick as possible and take out the threat because every time you hear a shot go off it could potentially be a kid getting killed or anybody getting killed for that matter.”
So there’s that.
Which, in its own way, evades the point; depending on law enforcement, even competent and courageous law enforcement, is not only a chimera, it’s an abdication of an adult’s responsibility.