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What Authorities Knew About The School Shooter


It's been 10 days since the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shootings. And in that time, it has come to light that the FBI, local law enforcement, the school system and those who knew him were aware of the troubled teenager who's been arrested. But that was not enough to stop him. NPR's Brakkton Booker has been covering the aftermath of the Parkton shooting and joins us now. Brakkton, thanks for being with us.

BRAKKTON BOOKER, BYLINE: Thanks for having me.

SIMON: Brakkton, it's been a hard week in Florida with the funerals and protests and gun policy proposals. But let me get you to focus on allegations of system-wide failures to stop the shooter, Nikolas Cruz. What can you tell us?

BOOKER: Yeah, that's right, Scott. It appears that there were lapses and missed opportunities at virtually every level. We're learning about a pair of Florida sheriff's offices, one in Broward and one in Palm Beach, that had run-ins with Cruz as early as November of last year. There are some 911 tapes obtained by a Florida television station, WPTV, about an altercation between Cruz and the son of the woman who took Cruz in. Here she is. Her name is Roxanne Deschamps (ph).


ROXANNE DESCHAMPS: There was a fight in my house. A kid and my son.


DESCHAMPS: Punching him. And he left the house. But I need someone here because I'm afraid he comes back, and he has a lot of weapons.

BOOKER: Now, I think it's important to note that Cruz also called 911 about the altercation with Deschamps' son. But ultimately, no arrests were made.

SIMON: Of course, the shooting took place in Broward County. And the sheriff's department there seems to be coming under some criticism, too.

BOOKER: Yeah, that's right. As those 911 tapes were becoming public, the Broward County Sheriff's Office sent out a tweet. It had a listing of 23 service calls about issues at the home that Cruz was staying in. And 18 of those service calls involved the alleged Parkland shooter. Now, the tweet went on to say that of those 18 instances, none appeared arrestable under Florida law. Now, appeared seems to be the key word here, Scott, because two of those calls remain under internal investigation.

SIMON: And, of course, the school resource officer is under criticism for not going into the school.

BOOKER: So yes. The school resource officer is named Scot Peterson (ph). And he's coming under fire for not going in while this shooting was happening. But he's not alone. He resigned this week. But the Sun-Sentinel newspaper is reporting that the sheriff's office is investigating claims made by another law enforcement department that two other deputies failed to go in after the shooting, as well, during the rampage. So, Scott, it seems that there are investigations on investigations going on in this case.

SIMON: And, of course, Governor Scott unveiled what he called a major action plan on guns and school safety that includes banning bump stocks and raising the firearm age requirement from 18 to 21. How's it been received?

BOOKER: Well, the governor's policy announcement came just a few days after intense lobbying and a huge rally led by student survivors of the Stoneman Douglas shooting. I had never seen a rally quite like that. But the governor's plan calls for $500 million to make schools safer and to limit some access to guns. You know, it's calling for raising the age requirement to buy a firearm from 18 to 21. It bans bump stocks. And that's getting a lot of the attention.

Now, gun rights advocates are not feeling these restrictions. They say it infringes on Second Amendment protections. Now, gun control advocates, like many of the students survivors that came up to Tallahassee this week, say that it's a good first step. But it doesn't go far enough. What they really want is a ban on semi-automatic, high-capacity magazines. And it's important to note, Scott, that the governor's plan also calls for things like equipping schools with bulletproof glass, steel doors and metal detectors. And he's calling on having one armed school resource officer for every 1,000 students.

SIMON: NPR's Brakkton Booker in Florida, thanks so much.

BOOKER: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Brakkton Booker is a National Desk reporter based in Washington, DC.