In the wake of the shooting, Broward students have contacted the superintendent and school administrators to tell them that “now is the time to have a real conversation about gun control laws in our country,” said Superintendent Robert Runcie.
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The school district is providing grief counseling for students and staff at several locations. School staff throughout the district will be provided guidance on how to talk to students about the shooting, Runcie said. He declined to address the reason suspect Nikolas Cruz was expelled from school.
Students have been reaching out to Runcie and staff insisting that the time is due for a conversation on sensible gun control. “Our students are asking for gun control,” Runcie said.
“We are doing everything we can to make sure we’re supporting our community,” Runcie said.
Runcie underscored the need for more funding for mental health services in schools and said he was working with state legislators to make that happen.
“When we have students within our care in the district, we provide the services we can provide them,” Runcie said. The superintendent noted, however, that kids are only in school part of the day, and that mental health services would have to extend beyond their doors.
“This is bigger than the school system,” Runcie said. “We need a communitywide approach.”
At a Thursday morning briefing, Broward Sheriff Scott Israel said that there had been several early morning “copycat threats” and that several bodies still remain in the school as detectives comb through the crime scene.
“We will respond to every threat,” Israel said, promising to charge those responsible. He urged people to speak out if they see something suspicious on social media.
“Please don’t remain silent,” he said. “We will be talking to every single student, every single person in the school who knows something.” The sheriff said that his department will be seeking justice for the families of victims. The suspect has been charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder.
Israel echoed Runcie’s emphasis on funding for mental health programs and treatment. Israel called on lawmakers in Tallahassee and Washington for legislation that would allow law enforcement officials to intervene when civilians show early signs of potentially violent behavior.
Israel said police believe they know where Cruz bought the weapon, but wouldn’t go into detail. He reported that there was no reason to believe Cruz was targeting anyone specifically in his attack.
He also spoke of the monitor and athletic director who died in the gunfire.
“Unfortunately those two heroes have their lives for our kids,” he said.
Israel’s two sons played football for Aaron Feis, an assistant football coach who died in the shooting.
FBI Special Agent in Charge Rob Lasky spoke about a YouTube post the FBI investigated in 2017 in which a user claimed, “I’m going to be a professional school shooter.” The user shared a name with the suspect Nikolas Cruz. The agent said the FBI couldn’t identify who posted it and would look into it once again
At the briefing, Florida Gov. Rick Scott promised common sense action on gun violence.
“If someone has mental health problems, they should not have access to a gun,” Scott said. “All of our schools have to be safe. How are we going to do that? It’s going to mean funding. It’s going to mean counseling.”
Miami Herald staff writer Charles Rabin contributed to this report.