Broward County

A BSO deputy who failed to confront Parkland shooter is disciplined after scathing report

Timeline of the Douglas High School shooting

Animation looks at the timeline of events during the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting.
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Animation looks at the timeline of events during the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting.

A day after a statewide commission released a scathing report on the handling of the Parkland shooting that left 17 students and high school faculty members dead, a Broward Sheriff’s deputy who did not confront the gunman was placed on restricted duty.

Deputy Joshua Stambaugh was informed of the decision by BSO at 9 a.m. Thursday, Jeff Bell, the union president, confirmed.

The discipline, first reported Thursday by the Sun Sentinel, marks the third time a BSO deputy has been placed under investigation for not confronting Nikolas Cruz, who walked into Marjory Stoneman Douglas High on Feb. 14 and opened fire, killing 17 and wounding 17 others. The two other deputies placed on restricted duty — which means they have to turn in their badge and gun — are deputy Edward Eason and BSO Sgt. Brian Miller.

Two additional deputies — including the widely criticized school resource officer Scot Peterson — have since retired from BSO.

Stambaugh, who has been a deputy for 20 years, was at a nearby private school working off-duty when the call went out about the shooting. It was his body camera footage that “captured the sounds of Cruz’s last gunshots,” according to the report.

In a recent interview with the Herald, Andrew Pollack, the father of one of the slain students, Meadow Pollack, pointed to Stambaugh’s lack of urgency in the body-cam video, saying that likely contributed to more deaths inside the school.

The 458-page report details every aspect of the shooting and spreads the blame across a wide spectrum, including school security breakdowns, failures in judgment by school administrators and law enforcement blunders.

According to the report, Stambaugh’s body-cam video confirms that Cruz was firing from the third-floor teachers’ lounge as he was putting on his ballistic vest.

“Despite hearing the gunshots, Stambaugh did not move toward the campus,” the report said. “The gunshots were loud and distinct. Stambaugh remained next to his vehicle for several minutes, even as Cruz fled Building 12.”

The gunshots heard in the footage were Cruz’s last.

The report says Stambaugh took a position behind his patrol vehicle for several minutes as Cruz exited the west side of Building 12 and ran west between Buildings 6 and 13.

Shortly after that, Stambaugh ran into Coral Springs Fire Chief Frank Babinec and told him “three people down,” directing the chief to go “farther west.”

Stambaugh then got into his truck and drove to a nearby highway where he took out his binoculars to secure the side of the school, Stambaugh said, according to the report.

“The deputies’ actions appear to be a violation of accepted protocol under which the deputies should have immediately moved toward the gunshots,” the report said.

When asked when the last time was that he received active shooter training, Stambaugh told investigators, “I couldn’t give you a time. It was a long time ago.”

According to the report, Stambaugh last attended training in February 2016.

Over the past few weeks, Broward Sheriff Scott Israel sent a letter to the commission, outlining steps he’s taken to reform the department. Among the measures: initiating yearly active shooter drills for all officers and issuing a directive that deputies immediately confront an active shooter.

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Monique O. Madan covers immigration and enterprise; she previously covered breaking news and local government. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The Boston Herald and The Dallas Morning News. She is currently a Reveal Fellow at the Center for Investigative Reporting. She graduated from Miami Dade College and Emerson College in Boston. A note to tipsters: If you want to send Monique confidential information, her email and mailbox are open. The address is 3511 NW 91st Ave, Doral, FL 33172. You can also direct message her on social media and she’ll provide encrypted Signal details.
Carli Teproff grew up in Northeast Miami-Dade and graduated from Florida International University in 2003. She became a full-time reporter for the Miami Herald in 2005 and now covers breaking news.
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