Video of events outside Florida school shooting to be released
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Authorities were set to release surveillance video Thursday showing what happened outside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School during the Valentine’s Day massacre that killed 17 people.
A Florida judge earlier this week agreed with news outlets including The Associated Press that the video should be released. Barring any last-minute appeals, the release is set for noon Thursday.
Police and school officials had resisted the release, saying it was evidence in an active investigation. Video of what happened inside the school is not being released.
Authorities say the video from outside the school depicts actions during the shooting by former deputy Scot Peterson, who was armed and assigned to the school but did not enter the targeted building during the shooting. Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said Peterson was suspended without pay, and chose to resign.
Nineteen-year-old Nikolas Cruz faces 34 murder and attempted murder charges in the attack. He appeared in court Wednesday as students across the nation walked out of school to protest gun violence.
Cruz said nothing during a brief hearing. Because he refused to announce his plea, Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer entered a not guilty plea on his behalf — mainly to keep the legal process moving.
His attorney, Assistant Public Defender Melisa McNeill, reiterated that Cruz would plead guilty if prosecutors waived the death penalty, which they refused to do.
While Cruz sat in the courtroom, more details of the shooting emerged as the Coral Springs Police Department released recordings of 911 calls and police radio traffic.
In the recordings, students and dispatchers were uncertain about the shooter’s location and how to hide from him.
Some were frightened the gunman would return to their location when asked if they could perform CPR on the wounded.
“Please, please, please, there are people here. They are bleeding. They are all going to die,” a teenage girl calling from classroom 1216 said through tears and heavy breathing. “There’s a lot of people around us that are injured, people that are injured, people that are bleeding. He is upstairs now.”
A teacher from room 1216 also called for help and told the 911 operator that a student had been hit in the chest, and wasn’t breathing.
“He’s twitching. There’s blood all over,” she said.
The police radio recordings showed that the Coral Springs police officers were the first to enter the school building after confirming that Broward County Sheriff’s Office deputies had not gone in.
As they cleared each of the building’s three floors, the officers described seeing shell casings on the floor and bullet holes in the windows.
They warned that the suspect may have changed clothes after they reported finding a camouflaged jacket, ski mask and backpack on the first floor.
On the third floor, officers said they found an AR-15 with a magazine still attached.
The officers found wounded victims and bodies, and they prioritized evacuating the wounded before allowing other students and teachers to leave. On the third floor, they said they shattered windows in some locked classroom doors because terrified students would not open doors.
Cruz was arrested a few blocks away from the school.