PARKLAND (CBSMiami) – The Broward Sheriff’s Office released the first 12 minutes of their law enforcement radio response to the deadly shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School last month.
These calls reinforce many questions about the decisions made by BSO School Resource Deputy Scot Peterson about not entering the school, focusing instead on locking down the school and shutting down the surrounding area.
There are also obvious problems from the inability of the Broward Sheriff’s Office and the Coral Springs Police Department to communicate that day.
Overall, the calls reveal the chaos and the real time decision making that played out in the incredibly tense and frightening moments at the school.
The timeline of events took place between 2:21 p.m. and 3:35 p.m. on February 14th at the Parkland school.
It provides information from four different sources; Stoneman Douglas security video and dispatch transmission from three agencies, Coral Springs Fire, Coral Springs Police and BSO.
Many people, including Broward Sheriff Scott Israel, have criticized the actions of Peterson during and in the moments after the shooting.
According to Israel, Peterson stayed outside the building where the shooting was taking place, building 12.
Peterson took cover outside as bullets flew for 4 minutes and “never went in,” Israel had said.
“I was disgusted. I was just demoralized with the performance of former deputy (Scot) Peterson,” Israel said in late February, around two weeks after the shooting.
The audio transmission paints a vivid picture into what Peterson did and said as the events unfolded.
Suspected shooter Nikolas Cruz entered building 12 at 2:21 p.m and began firing shots 15 seconds later.
Just over one minute later 911 began receiving calls in reference to a shooting and within seconds, Coral Springs Fire personnel were dispatched for an active shooter at the school.
Peterson’s first response to BSO dispatch came nearly two minutes after the first shots were fired.
“Be advised we have possible, could be firecrackers, I think we have shots fired, possible shots fired – 1200 building,” Peterson said.
Surveillance footage then showed Peterson near the southeast corner of building 12 and the northeast corner of building 7, an area he appeared to remain for the duration of the incident.
At 2:25 p.m., nearly two minutes after arriving at building 12, and four minutes and twenty seconds after shooting began, Peterson ordered that the school be put on lockdown.
Less than a minute later Coral Springs PD dispatch could be heard saying the 911 lines were “blowing up” with calls in reference to the shooting.
At this point students could be seen running out and away from the school and at 2:27 p.m. Peterson called for no one to be allowed inside the school.
“Make sure I have a unit over in front of the school, make sure no one comes inside the school,” he told BSO dispatch.
It was moments later that the shooting stopped.
Surveillance footage showed Cruz leaving his weapon in a stairwell and exiting the west side of building 12 at 2:27 p.m., six minutes and thirty seven seconds after the shooting began.
Moments later Peterson could be heard telling dispatch to keep officers away from the building where Cruz was believed to be and where students and teachers lay dead and wounded.
“Broward, do not approach the 12 or 1300 building, stay at least 500 feet away at this point,” Peterson said.
Perhaps in response to Peterson’s order, a BSO deputy could be heard over dispatch saying, “I had a parent tell there is a child down, have Fire Rescue stage in the area until we make contact.”
Less than ten seconds later another deputy came on the transmission.
“I got a victim with gunshot to right leg…show me the west end by the football field.”
At 2:29 p.m., which was nearly eight minutes after the shooting began, a Coral Springs Police officer met with Peterson outside building 12.
Almost simultaneously, two BSO deputies told dispatch they were in front of building 13 and were going inside, though this was not the building where the shooting took place.
Also at that time, as Cruz was seen on surveillance footage near the southwest part of campus, a victim gave someone from BSO the first description of the shooter.
“Victim saying a male in a hoodie, he could not describe with at least an AR15 or AK47,” the officer said.
Coral Springs Police then began to close down all the streets surrounding Stoneman Douglas.
Nearly ten minutes after the first shots were fired, dispatch told officers that a perimeter had not been set up yet around the school.
This was the first time the district commander of Parkland, Captain Jan Jordan, is heard over dispatch.
She has been criticized for calling for a perimeter at the scene, but the radio calls show the shooting was over and that Cruz had left the building, though it’s unclear whether she knew that information.
“We’re in total lockdown right now,” Peterson said moments later. “Nobody’s leaving the school, everybody’s in lockdown.”
At 2:32 p.m. Coral Springs officers moved towards building 12.
Four Coral Springs officers and two members of BSO then entered the building through a door on the west side, and the two BSO deputies quickly extracted a victim.
A perimeter was confirmed to be set up at 2:33 p.m.; twelve minutes after the first shots were fired.
Also at this time, officers began heading into building 12 to help evacuate and search for victims.
Not far from the school at a nearby Walmart, security footage showed Cruz enter the store and exit about three minutes later.
He then walked into a McDonald’s restaurant but only stayed for a minute before leaving.
It was nearly fourty minutes later that Coconut Creek officer Michael Leonard observed Cruz and coordinated his arrest.
This happened an hour and seventeen minutes after the shooting began.
The full audio recording can be heard below.
Colonel Jack Dale of the Broward Sheriff’s Office spoke about the perimeter issue.
“Deputies are unsure of the location of the shooter or the numbers of shooters. So when Captain Jordan asked the question if there’s a perimeter set in an attempt to contain the individual, that was a reasonable question,” Dale said.
He also addressed the deputy’s decision not to enter the building.
“They did not go in to the 1200 building initially because they were dealing with the possibility of shots fired on the exterior of the building and into the football field,” Dale said.