The young woman says she can’t breathe.
“There are people here, they’re all bleeding,” she whispers through tears to a police dispatcher. “They’re going to die.”
The terrified freshman was calling from inside the Parkland high school building attacked by a former student, Nikolas Cruz, on Feb. 14. The call was among more than a dozen released by the Coral Springs Police Department Wednesday. A separate batch of 911 calls was released last week by the Broward Sheriff’s Office.
“Honey, I’m really sorry that you’re going through this, but I’m here with you,” a 911 operator told the girl. “Stay quiet.”
The calls shed some light on the terror inside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School during Cruz’s rampage, which killed 17 people. Students and staff can be heard begging 911 operators for help — as at least one BSO deputy was waiting outside the building where people were injured and dead.
The student being comforted by the 911 operator said three people were shot in her classroom, room 1216. Two were beyond help, she sobbed.
A third student, however, lying next to her, was still alive. He’d been shot in the head.
“So he’s breathing, yes or no?” the operator asked.
“Yes,” the girl replied.
In trauma situations, getting first-aid to victims immediately can save lives, especially those with violent injuries like wounds from high-velocity weapons, said Dr. George Garcia, a trauma surgeon with the University of Miami Health System who practices at Ryder Trauma Center.
“The faster we can get the bleeding in control the better for the patient,” Garcia said.
But BSO deputies, who were first on the scene, waited outside of the building instead of going in to confront Cruz and offer first-aid, according to sources familiar with the agency’s response. That was in contravention of training, Broward Sheriff Scott Israel said at a news conference where he announced the resignation of one of those deputies, Stoneman Douglas school resource officer Scot Peterson.
“It’s disgraceful they didn’t get in there faster,” said Michael Udine, a Broward County commissioner who has called for an independent investigation into the shooting. “It seems to me that if first responders had gotten in there more quickly, some of these people may not have bled to death. Lives might have been saved.”
Coral Springs police officers were the first to go in, about 11 minutes after Cruz started shooting, according to a preliminary timeline released by BSO. By then, Cruz, who’s been indicted on 17 counts of first-degree murder and 17 counts of attempted murder, had already fled.
Law enforcement had a good sense of where Cruz struck: Many of the callers reported he was shooting up Building 12, where freshman classes were held.
“We are getting a lot of calls from that 1200 building,” one Coral Springs 911 operator told a parent who called in to report the shooting.
Peterson has defended his conduct. He said he did not go into the building because he thought the shooter was outside, although radio logs released by BSO show he warned other deputies to stay away from Building 12. At least three other deputies also failed to immediately enter the building, sources said.
It took police about 16 minutes to reach the girl in room 1216 after she called 911.
At first, she wasn’t sure who was coming through the door.
“They’re coming in, they’re coming in,” she said.
“Who is?” the operator frantically asked. “The police or the shooter? The police or the shooter? Who’s coming in? Talk to me.”
“Oh my god, they’re dead,” the girl sobbed in response.
It’s not known what happened to the boy who was shot in the head or if the other victims in the room were in fact dead.
The survival of one Parkland victim, Maddy Wilford, was credited to a BSO SWAT team officer who applied a chest seal and bandage to her wound, as well as a quick-thinking Coral Springs paramedic who diverted her ambulance to a closer trauma center than its original destination.
BSO has come under national criticism for its response to the shooting and whether it — and other authorities such as the FBI and Broward County Public Schools — missed warning signs about Cruz’s troubling behavior in the years before the shooting.
A judge on Monday ordered BSO to release a school surveillance video showing the response of Peterson and other law enforcement officers.
As Cruz raged through the building, teachers took charge to protect their students.
One teacher can be heard on a 911 call whispering to her students, telling them to stay down and stay quiet. She was calling from the same classroom as the panicked young woman, just two minutes after Cruz started shooting.
“I’m in a classroom The lights are off,” the teacher told a 911 operator. “The door is locked. But a student was shot. It went through the door.”
She reported the male student was not breathing after being shot in the chest.
“He’s twitching. There’s blood all over,” she said.
The operator told her to put pressure on the wound and stay on the line. Then, after several more minutes, the operator believed the shooter was moving back toward the classroom, reflecting law enforcement’s uncertainty about Cruz’s precise location.
“He’s by your room. Everyone stay quiet,” the operator told the teacher. She said Coral Springs police and BSO were on the scene and would be clearing the classrooms soon. (Cruz was captured near the school about an hour later.)
The Coral Springs dispatchers were also dealing with calls from frantic parents seeking information.
Coral Springs police said its 911 phone line received 115 phone calls between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. on the day of shooting. BSO said it received 81 calls. The two departments operate different 911 systems.
“Can you tell me what’s going on? My daughter is in Stoneman Douglas High School,” one mother said. “She says there’s a shooting,”
“Ma’am, right now we’re just now getting calls in, so I have literally zero information for you,” the operator replied. “Our phone lines are completely lit up so we’re still trying to figure out ourselves.”
“Do not go to the school,” the operator added.
Inside, people were dying.
“There’s a lot of blood,” one woman reported. “Please help”
The operator tried to ask questions, but the woman sounded as if she’d gone into shock.
“It's real, it’s real,” she said over and over again.
Finally, she whispered, “please help.” Then the line went dead and the call cut off.
Miami Herald staff writer Alex Harris contributed to this report.