Parkland, FL – The commanding officer at the scene of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School massacre on Feb. 14 ordered other first responders to “stage” and set up a “perimeter” rather than rushing into the school building to try to kill the shooter, FOX News reported.
However, the Broward County Sheriff’s Office (BCSO) standard operating procedures manual says that a “sole deputy or a team of deputies” may enter an active shooter situation to “preserve life” without a supervisor’s approval.
One law enforcement source called BCSO’s response to the Valentine’s Day carnage “atrocious,” and told FOX News, “If deputies were staging it could have cost lives.”
Police and emergency medical personnel have said they were delayed in responding, and saving lives, at the Parkland high school because of bad commands being issued by BCSO supervisors.
The Feb. 14 dispatch log that FOX News got ahold of appeared to confirm those first responders’ assessments
The dispatch logs showed that when the commands for staging and setting up a perimeter were given, police had not located the shooter, and a responding medivac refused to take off for fear of being shot down, FOX News reported.
Jeff Bell, the president of the Broward County Sheriff’s Deputies Association, told FOX News it wasn’t clear how many officers had responded to Stoneman Douglas High School when the first perimeter and stage commands came out, or if any officers were already inside the school.
Bell said that unless “50” officers had already gone inside to neutralize the shooter, it was a bad command to order staging at that point in the incident.
“If that is the correct log at 10 minutes, that we were more concerned with the perimeter than finding the shooter, it was a bad command. It could have stalled our officers or cost lives,” Bell told FOX News.
Authorities have not released the official timeline for the Feb. 14 shooting, but using the portion of the dispatch log they obtained, FOX News was able to ascertain what happened after a 19-year-old former student began shooting at students and faculty at 2:21 p.m.
The log indicated police received a call at 2:23 p.m. from a female student reporting shots fired. More calls came in at 2:25 p.m. and 2:26 p.m. that identified the shooting location as “THE 1200 BUILDING,” also known as the freshman building.
At 2:26:56 p.m., the shooter was still firing, according to police who had arrived on the scene. “UNITS ADV SHOTS FIRED” the log read.
Responding officers still didn’t know where the shooter was at 2:29 p.m.
At 2:32 p.m. the dispatch log showed that the commanding officer on the scene had ordered officers on the scene to set up a perimeter around the school.
A few minutes later, the shooter’s location was still unknown. But at 2:34:48 p.m., the same commanding officer gave the order to stage on the Sawgrass side of the building, according to the dispatch log.
At 2:38 p.m., the medivac advised dispatch it wasn’t launching until the shooter was in custody.
Finally, at 2:47 p.m., 26 minutes after the shooter began his rampage that left 17 students and faculty dead, and another 14 wounded, the SWAT team entered the school building.
That was 15 minutes after the incident commander gave the order to stage, rather than sending first responders into the school to try to stop the rampage and save the dying.
Broward County law enforcement has faced much criticism and scrutiny in the wake of the tragedy.
CNN reported that an anonymous Coral Springs police officer accused four BCSO deputies of staying outside behind cover instead of running towards danger to stop the active shooter.
Coral Springs police sources allegedly told CNN that when their police officers arrived on the scene, three additional Broward County deputies were outside the school, with their pistols drawn, taking cover behind their police vehicles. The school resource officer had taken cover outside the school as well.
Coral Springs police, joined by a Sunrise police officer and some new Broward County deputies who arrived on the scene after them, were the first law enforcement officers to attempt entry into the building – but even then, the Broward deputies already on the scene stayed behind, CNN reported.
Emergency medical personnel were also pointing the finger at BCSO for keeping them away from victims until the scene had been cleared.
“We were asking to go in. Asking the scene commander to go in,” a medic who wished to remain anonymous told WSVN. “The response every time was law enforcement did not clear the scene and would not allow medical personnel in.”
“I would have risked my life to go in. I was eager to,” he said.
The medic explained that the overall response to the shooting conflicted with everything he had been taught about mass casualty events.
“You don’t wait for the scene to be cleared. You go in immediately armed,” he explained. “You can’t leave the victims laying there.”
He also argued that more could have been done to bring the victims to safety, even if the medical personnel were not allowed to enter.
“All they had to do was drag them out of the building. And we could have started medical care,” he said. “I would hypothesize I could have saved lives.”
“They should have been more aggressive about getting the victims out,” he said.
The medic expressed extreme frustration that he wasn’t given clearance to help more people.
“I think they made the decision they thought was right at the time,” he said. “But I don’t think it was the right one.”
According to FOX News, a source who was aware of the situation said that the Broward County Sheriff’s Office was that agency that had ordered some of the emergency medical crews to stay outside of the school.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and numerous state agencies were investigating what exactly happened during the active shooter incident on Feb. 14, and the Florida state house has subpoenaed the records from BCSO and the Broward County school district, FOX News reported.
On Feb. 25, Florida Governor Rick Scott asked the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) to investigate the Stoneman Douglas school shooting.
After FDLE’s investigation was announced, 73 Florida lawmakers signed a letter to the governor asking him to suspend Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel, Newsweek reported.
Sheriff Israel has refused to resign.