The suspect Nikolas Cruz had an extensive disciplinary and mental health record and may have received indulgent treatment, but his placement in a school program for troubled students in Broward County did not stop him from buying a gun.
According to the authorities, perhaps he should have been arrested for a mental health assessment, but that would not have prevented him from buying the AR-15 allegedly used to kill, on February 14, 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
Added to this is that problems with the county radio system made it difficult to coordinate the initial response of the police, but the victims were already dead at the time the failures arose.
“In the heat of the moment, things are informed, they become facts that with the benefit of time, and with a little understanding of the events, you begin to realize that they were not as decisive a factor as you thought,” he said. Commissioner Ryan Petty, whose 14-year-old daughter Alaina was murdered.
The Public Safety Commission of Marjory Stoneman Douglas, composed of 15 members, is composed of law enforcement officials, educators, mental health professionals, politicians and parents of student victims.
Petty and Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, chairman of the commission, said he is confident lawmakers will adopt the recommendations that the committee’s report will make. Your deadline to submit it expires on January 1.
“They are looking for real answers and real answers,” said Gualtieri. «They will act accordingly».
Highlights of what the commission has found so far include:
Cross mental health status
The commission received details of Cruz’s mental health treatment behind closed doors on Thursday (those records are protected by state and federal laws), but glimpses emerged during open testimony.
Gualtieri told council members that they had at least 140 contacts with Cruz over the years trying to get him help, but his late mother frequently interfered. According to his realty when a counselor objected to Cruz’s desire to buy a gun, Lynda Cruz said he could buy it and that when he turned 18 he helped him obtain the necessary state identification card.
It is also known that Cruz spent years in a school for children with emotional and behavioral problems, but he was allowed to attend Marjory Stoneman Douglas even though there were doubts about his stability. Cruz, 19, is charged with 17 counts of first-degree murder.
The commission learned that the purchase of AR-15 and other weapons by Cruz in February 2017 was legal under current Florida law. According to the old law, Cruz could only have been blocked by a felony conviction or declared mentally ill. Even if Cruz had been detained under Florida’s Baker Act, which allows an involuntary three-day mental health assessment, he would not have been excluded.
Three weeks after the shooting, Florida raised the minimum age to buy a rifle or a shotgun from 18 to 21, equaling the age limit for guns, with few exceptions. The new laws also allow security forces to request a judge to block a person they consider dangerous for buying or possessing weapons for a year and request extensions.
The commission concluded that the Promise Program of Broward County schools, which received significant criticism, played no role in the shooting.
Under the program, students who commit misdemeanor or infraction of the rules are referred to the off-campus program for two to 10 days instead of being suspended and possibly arrested. They are evaluated, receive a course of treatment, attend classes and receive advice.
Cruz was referred to the program once in 2013 for breaking a tap in a high school restroom. And although it is not clear whether Cruz attended, according to Gualtieri even if Cruz had been criminally charged, it would not have interfered with his ability to buy a gun four years later.
The commission recognizes that there are flaws in the program and for Petty an atmosphere of too much indulgence was created for students like Cruz that must be addressed.
The shooting revealed flaws in the Broward County emergency radio system. When dozens of officials tried to transmit in the minutes after the shooting, the system became overloaded and began blocking new transmissions, including those of the area commander, Capt. Jan Jordan Who received many criticisms for not taking charge immediately, but could not, according to Gualtieri, his radio did not allow it.
Even if he had, none of those who died would have been saved. Only former officer Scot Peterson, the school’s security officer, arrived at the building during the first three minutes, when the murders occurred, and did not enter. The radio system failed after that. It is scheduled to be replaced next year.