PARKLAND (CBSMiami) –The Broward Sheriff’s Office is firing back against accusations that the agency failed to act on warning signs involving shooting suspect Nikolas Cruz, failed to adequately respond to the shooting and didn’t properly train their deputies.
Late Tuesday, BSO published what it’s calling a “Fact Check” to respond to some of the criticism the agency and a handful of its deputies and employees have faced since the deadly school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School last month that left 17 dead and 14 wounded.
The following are 3 of the most prominent criticisms the agency has faced and BSO’s response:
CLAIM: “Broward Sheriff’s Office missed countless warning signs about shooting suspect Nikolas Cruz.”
BSO RESPONSE: BSO says they responded to 18 calls for service for Cruz but the agency says “(T)here were no arrestable offenses, nor was there evidence to prompt an involuntary mental health assessment.”
Another claim focuses on Parkland District Commander Captain Jan Jordan and her radio transmission asking if a perimeter had been set up around the school.
CLAIM: “A BSO captain told deputies to form a perimeter around the deadly scene instead of going in to confront the shooter.”
BSO RESPONSE: “The shooting had stopped….The question was asked following transmissions by law enforcement on scene advising of victims located at the football field and near the entrance of Westglades Middle School. Other transmissions stated the location of the suspect was unknown and at least one other communicated units were making entry.”
BSO says that when Captain Jordan asked about that perimeter, Nikolas Cruz was gone from Building 1200, the freshman building. A law enforcement source tells CBS4 News that, at that point, if the shooting had stopped and Cruz was no longer on the premises, setting up a perimeter was exactly the right thing to do.
BSO RESPONSE: BSO says “A perimeter…would be appropriate to apprehend the suspect, stop him from entering the neighboring middle school and prevent non-first responders from coming on the school property…”
Another claim involves the communications between BSO and Coral Springs Police and Fire Rescue. The initial 911 calls from the shooting were received by dispatchers in Coral Springs, not from BSO.
CLAIM: “Real-time audio from dispatch records reveal errors in the law enforcement response.”
BSO RESPONSE: “Coral Springs Fire Rescue was dispatched to the scene of an active shooter. BSO was dispatched shortly after to a call of possible shots fired. Initially, Coral Springs officers and BSO deputies were working on separate radio channels until the channels were patched together. The patching of radio channels was impeded by the fact Coral Springs is not part of the regional communications system. The patching of channels came after the shooter left the school.”
BSO School Resource Officer Scot Peterson quit after learning that he would be suspended for failing to go into the school while the shooter was inside carrying out his murderous rampage. The information released by BSO on Tuesday did not address the accusation that other 3 BSO deputies may have also failed to enter the school.
Another claim is whether deputies were told not to enter the school unless they had body cameras on. BSO says that is absolutely false.
BSO also says that their deputies regularly undergo active shooter training and that the agency is promising transparency throughout this process but cannot release certain records and information because of a number of investigations into the shooting and the response to it.
BSO says they’ve set up a website where they will post other information on the shooting investigation.