Broward County

'Pools of blood': Police responding to Parkland shooting found confusion and death

Full version of active shooter dispatch audio from Parkland school shooting

The second-by-second timeline and audio recording of police radio chatter sheds new light on the chaotic and much scrutinized law-enforcement response to the bloodshed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High on Feb. 14, the state’s worst school shooting.
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The second-by-second timeline and audio recording of police radio chatter sheds new light on the chaotic and much scrutinized law-enforcement response to the bloodshed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High on Feb. 14, the state’s worst school shooting.

When Broward Sheriff's Office Deputy Gennaro Volpe heard the call come over his radio — "shots fired" at a Parkland high school — he rushed to campus.

There, Volpe was met with chilling scenes of chaos and death. A slain man, someone he knew, lying motionless outside the freshman building. Another victim, still alive, whom Volpe hustled onto a golf cart to seek medical attention.

"I spoke to [the victim], but he did not respond back," Volpe wrote in a report released Friday afternoon by BSO. "During my conversation I only gave him words of encouragement that he was going to survive."

Volpe's report was one of nine first-hand accounts documenting BSO's response to the Feb. 14 mass shooting by Nikolas Cruz at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and made public two months later. The agency has been criticized because BSO Deputy Scot Peterson, the school's resource officer, did not immediately enter the freshman building where Cruz's attack took place. Other BSO deputies also did not enter immediately. Ultimately, Coral Springs Police Department officers were the first to go in and begin searching for the shooter and treating victims.

Peterson's shots-fired call went out at 2:23, soon after the attack began, according to a timeline released earlier by BSO. Police did not enter the building until 2:32 p.m., five minutes after the shooting ended. Cruz was able to elude capture and was arrested more than an hour later off campus. Seventeen students and staff members died.

The reports released Friday don't provide a comprehensive explanation for the BSO delay but they do suggest confusion played a role.

The Broward Sheriff's Office released surveillance video from outside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School during and after the shooting by Nikolas Cruz that killed 17 people on Feb. 14, 2018.

One of the first BSO deputies to arrive on campus, William Hanks, wrote that he was unsure where the shooting was taking place and took cover behind his patrol car to assess the situation. He began heading in the right direction when he saw Coral Springs officers and another BSO deputy running toward the freshman building.

Another deputy, Michael Kratz, reported that he heard four to five gunshots and took cover to locate the gunman but was unable to do so. Kratz then stopped school buses that were approaching the area to prevent them from entering.

Everyone was confused about where Cruz was. Deputies tried to get information from panicked students but they couldn't help.

One deputy reported hearing on his radio that the suspect was still inside the building and was on the move, leading him to clear the area of worried parents. (Cruz had already left campus but was being observed on surveillance cameras by deputies who didn't know the footage was on a 20-minute delay.)

The BSO timeline noted that Peterson warned BSO deputies to stay "at least 500 feet away" from building 12, although no reports released Friday mentioned that command. Peterson's report was not among those made public.

Also adding to the confusion: Officers from Coral Springs and BSO couldn't talk to each other over the radio because the two law enforcement agencies were using different frequencies.

The Coral Springs Fire Department released a series of radio dispatches from their response to the Marjory Stoneman Douglas school shooting.



Coral Springs has yet to release several reports from officers who entered the building, although it did release some documents last month. The BSO deputies who went in reported carnage.

"I entered building 12 and immediately detected the odor of gun powder and observed several people lying in the hallways in pools of blood," wrote one BSO deputy.

Deputies began treating victims and locating survivors. Some had to smash windows to gain access to classrooms where students and teachers huddled in fear. BSO SWAT arrived to secure the scene.

Volpe, after helping the injured victim on the golf cart, went back to building 12 to provide aid. The report doesn't say what happened to the man on the cart.

Afterward, he looked down to see that his arms, uniform and rifle were covered in blood.

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