Authorities on Thursday released video surveillance footage showing the outside of the Parkland high school where a teenage gunman opened fire, killing 17 people and wounding 15 in Florida’s deadliest campus shooting.
Citing “strong public interest,” a Broward judge last week ordered public release of the four video clips from the surveillance system at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High. The clips do not show the carnage inside Building 12, but depict police response on campus outside.
Exactly how the Broward Sheriff’s Office responded in the initial moments of the Feb. 14. massacre has been the focus of extensive national criticism. When gunfire broke out at 2:21 p.m. ,school resource deputy Scot Peterson arrived within minutes, but took up a position outside and never entered the building to engage shooter Nikolas Cruz.
The video footage released offers a limited viewpoint that focuses mainly on Broward Deputy Scot Peterson.
It begins shortly after gunfire erupted, with Peterson and civilian security monitor Kelvin Greenleaf walking with purpose outside an administration building, clearly alarmed by sounds. When the fire alarm is triggered — apparently by the smoke of the gunfire — the two begin running, get into a golf cart and speed toward Building 12.
The angle of the remaining footage shows the two pull up to the southeast corner of Building 12 as what appears to be a group of students – the images are blurred under orders from the judge – appear to be moving about frantically on a lawn. Peterson and Greenleaf can be seen waving, then the school officer assumes a position that is partially obstructed by a pole.
The footage apparently shows Peterson remaining in that area for the next 20-plus minutes of the clip. Greenleaf appears to leave the view. Other officers show up, though it is not clear from the video whether they are BSO or Coral Springs officers, and students are eventually led out of the building.
The footage does not show Cruz, who shot up the inside of the school for about six minutes. It took officers 11 minutes to finally enter the building from the time the shooting was first reported.
Broward Sheriff Scott Israel publicly condemned Peterson, who resigned but has insisted he followed his training. The longtime campus cop, through his lawyer, said he believed the gunfire was coming from outside Building 12; police radio dispatches, however, suggest Peterson knew gunfire was happening inside and he even ordered fellow cops to stay away.
The release of the video stemmed from a lawsuit filed by the Miami Herald, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel and other media outlets against BSO and the school district, seeking release of video clips so that the public can “be given the first-hand opportunity to review and evaluate the video and the actions of its government officials.”
The footage provided, which was approved for release by Judge Jeffrey Levenson, shows only a small segment of the overall law enforcement response. It was not immediately clear if other camera angles were available.
The sheriff’s office released a brief statement along with the surveillance footage. “The video speaks for itself. His [Peterson’s] actions were enough to warrant an internal affairs investigation, as requested by Sheriff Scott Israel on Feb. 21. After being suspended without pay, Peterson chose to resign and immediately retired rather than face possible termination.”
BSO initially resisted release of the video, but at a hearing last week, changed course and agreed the footage should be made public. The Broward State Attorney’s Office asked it be kept secret, but decided against appealing the judge’s ruling.
Cruz, 19, is awaiting trial on 17 counts of first-degree murder. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.