FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) — New reports, released by Coral Springs Police Monday, give more in-depth details of what officers encountered when they first arrived at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, the day of the February massacre that left 17 people dead.
Several responding officers say Broward County deputies got there first but had not entered the building where people were attacked.
Officer Gil Monzon wrote that two deputies told him they didn’t know where the shooter was. But Monzon said he could see a victim lying next to the freshman building, and bullet marks in a third-floor window. He and three other Coral Springs officers went inside and found other dead and wounded victims.
In his report released on Monday, he wrote, “Upon arrival I approached the northwest student parking entrance. Ofc. Burton advised that the shooting occurred in the three story building on the north side the campus. I was directly north of the west entrance into that three story building (1200 building). I observed two deputies in the parking lot, I asked them where the shooter was but they advised his location was unknown. I directed my attention to the 1200 building where I observed a [victim] lying on his back.”
A window on the third floor, Monzon saw, was still intact “but had visible bullet impact marks.”
He was then joined by three other Coral Springs officers and they entered the building.
They “immediately encountered a [victim] who had been shot, standing against a wall. The [victim] was conscious and breathing but fell to the floor and was in shock.”
They began searching for the gunman and helping victims.
“The hallway was quiet and full of thick smoke from gunfire,” Monzon wrote.
More Coral Springs officers made entry so to avoid accidentally firing at each other, Monzon and his team moved to the second floor, where they found students and teachers hiding in classrooms. Still unsure if the gunman was in the building, they left survivors locked in classrooms and moved to the third floor, where Monzon said he “encountered several deceased students throughout the hall.” He was then sent to help clear a nearby building.
The reports written by two other officers and released only now corroborate earlier reports that the first Broward deputies at the scene failed to enter the building to confront the gunman and assist the wounded.
Officer Tim Burton, the first on-duty Coral Springs officer to arrive, grabbed his rifle and was directed toward the freshman building, where he found Deputy Scot Peterson, the school’s security officer, taking cover behind a concrete column.
“I observed Dep. Peterson seeking cover behind a concrete column,” Burton wrote. “Dep. Peterson advised he hadn’t heard any gunfire for a few minutes and didn’t know the exact location of the shooter. Dep. Peterson advised that I needed to watch my back in case the shooter was behind me, hiding in the parking lot.”
Peterson resigned from his deputy job under criticism from Sheriff Scott Israel, who said he should have immediately entered the building to find the killer. Parents, meanwhile, speculated that victims on the third floor could have survived had first responders reached them more quickly. Ryan Petty, whose daughter Alaina died in the attack, tweeted over the weekend, “6 on the 3rd may have lived if anyone had gone in.”
On Friday, the Broward Sheriff’s Office released its own reports from deputies, including one who sped four miles from another school and joined Coral Springs officers searching the freshman building. Those reports detail the chaos, confusion and carnage responding deputies encountered when they first arrived at the school.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement also is preparing a report on the overall law enforcement response.
Nikolas Cruz, 19, a former Stoneman Douglas student, fled the building after his gun jammed, melding in with students as they ran to the street. He was captured an hour later about a mile away. His attorneys have said he would plead guilty to 17 counts of murder in exchange for life without parole. Prosecutors have said they will seek the death penalty.