‘There’s no place to hide’ — 911 calls reveal harrowing details from Florida school shooting
A boy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, on the phone with his mother, who’s relaying the call to a 911 dispatcher.
Because, petrified and hiding and trying to make themselves very small, the kids called home, most of them, in whispered and panicked conversations. They wanted Mom. They wanted Dad. They wanted to be comforted, as if Mom and Dad could make everything OK, even when there’s an active shooter roaming the hallways.
Only one from among the 10 calls to 911 that have been released, in excerpts, by the Broward County Sheriff’s Office — and kudos to them because media in Canada would have to jump through hoops to get a law enforcement agency to disclose such evidence without a court order — was from a student at the school directly to 911.
That boy gasps for breath, choking on sobs.
“Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School is being shot up.”
The line goes ominously dead.
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Imagine the horror as parents receive calls and messages from their kids and try to relay that information to authorities, the chaos and heartbreaking dread, as one parent stays on the line and another, or a friend, makes contact with 911, triangulating conversations, reading texts aloud, trying their damnedest to calm and reassure even as their own hearts are pounding and their worst fears seeming to be realized.
“Be advised, we have possible, could be firecrackers, I think we got shots fired.”
That alert from Scot Peterson, the school resource officer at Marjory Stoneman Douglas who didn’t go inside the school, didn’t confront the shooter, didn’t attempt to lead any of the students to safety. In fact, in one of the excerpts, Peterson advises police to stay away.
“Do not approach the 12 or 1300 building, stay at least 500 feet away at this point.” That was at 2:25 p.m.
Dispatcher, to police responding: “Stay away from 12 and 1300 building.”
At first — after the Valentine’s Day massacre of 17 people, including 14 students — officials had claimed the school resource officer believed the shooter was outside the building. But in a detailed timeline released last week by the sheriff’s office, Peterson clearly states he thinks the shooter is inside.
Many, including the sheriff, are furious about Peterson’s failure to act and the lag which subsequently occurred. Initial calls about the shooting came in to 911 at 2:22 p.m. It would be 11 minutes before any officers entered the school — five minutes after the shooting had stopped. Five minutes after the suspect, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, had left the building.
“What I saw was a deputy arrive at the west side of building 13,” Sheriff Scott Israel told reporters on Thursday, “take up a position and he never went in.”
At least 81 calls came in to 911 during, as the shooter stalked the hallways, shooting randomly into classrooms, and afterwards, when police finally entered and began ushering the students outside.
“There’s no place to hide … they’re crouched (under) the window.”