Broward Sheriff’s Office Deputy Scot Peterson wasn’t the only armed law enforcement officer who didn’t go into the Parkland high school building where Nikolas Cruz attacked students and staff last month.
Three other BSO deputies also remained outside, a source familiar with the agency’s response to the shooting told the Miami Herald Friday, confirming an earlier CNN report.
The order to set up a perimeter — while law enforcement thought Cruz was still inside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School — was given by BSO’s Parkland district commander, Capt. Jan Jordan, according to a dispatch log obtained by the Herald. Coral Springs police officers entered the building first, blowing by the BSO deputies, although by then Cruz had already fled after his AR-15 rifle is believed to have jammed.
Commanders are tasked with setting up perimeters and staging areas, according to a BSO training manual obtained by the Herald. But the first priority for deputies is finding and stopping the shooter.
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“Everyone should have gone in,” said the source, who was not authorized to talk on the record about BSO. “Every single person believed the shooter was in the building. You have to stop the threat.”
Now, as Broward Sheriff Scott Israel avoids the media and refuses to release video recordings and other evidence that could shed light on how the tragedy unfolded, BSO’s union is slamming his response to national criticism of his agency.
“Our deputies are being called cowards in public, even if they had nothing to do with [the shooting response],” said Jeff Bell, head of the Broward Sheriff’s Office Deputies Association. “The deputies on the street are the ones taking the heat.”
Bell called for Israel to release all surveillance videos, audio recordings and dispatch logs documenting BSO’s response to the shooting.
“The only way to heal this community is transparency,” he said.
If the union wants to obtain the surveillance video or any other records, it can submit a public records request like anyone else, said Veda Coleman-Wright, BSO’s public information director.
Seventeen people were killed during the Feb. 14 massacre. Cruz was captured soon after near the school.
The Herald, South Florida Sun-Sentinel and CNN are suing BSO and the School Board of Broward County to release surveillance video.
At a news conference last week, Israel said the video showed Peterson, a school resource officer at Stoneman Douglas, standing outside the building. He said BSO training called for Peterson, who has since resigned, and other deputies responding to enter the building immediately. But he declined to share the footage.
“We may never disclose the video, depending on the prosecution [of Cruz] and the criminal case,” Israel said at the time.
An internal investigation is ongoing.
Joseph DiRuzzo, an attorney for Peterson, has said the deputy believed shots were coming from outside and took appropriate action. DiRuzzo did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday.
Jordan, the Parkland captain, joined the Broward Sheriff’s Office in January 2013, the same month that Israel became sheriff. Her application says she was referred to the position by Israel. Both previously worked for the Fort Lauderdale Police Department.
Jordan has received top marks on her annual performance reviews and her internal affairs file reveals no blemishes.
She remains in command of her district, according to two sources.
Freelance journalist Wanda J. DeMarzo contributed to this report.