The South Florida Sun Sentinel has compiled a comprehensive and disturbing timeline of what happened — and didn’t happen — that day in Parkland.
A gunman with an AR-15 fired the bullets, but a series of blunders, bad policies, sketchy training and poor leadership helped him succeed. Information reported over 10 months by the South Florida Sun Sentinel reveals 58 minutes of chaos on campus marked by no one taking charge, deputies dawdling, false information spreading, communications paralyzed and children stranded with nowhere to hide.
2:19:54 P.M.: A campus watchman has a chance to stop gunman [name removed] before any blood is shed. But he doesn’t do it…he does not pursue [him] and does not call a Code Red to lock down the school.
2:21:16 P.M.: Second unarmed monitor spots gunman, turns the other way.
2:21:23 P.M.: Freshman Chris McKenna enters the first-floor stairwell and sees [the gunman] loading his gun. Cruz tells him “You’d better get out of here. Things are gonna start getting messy.”
McKenna runs from the building and informs Aaron Feis, a football coach and campus monitor, that there is someone with a gun. There is no evidence that Feis, who has a radio, calls a Code Red.
2:21:38 P.M.: [Campus] watchman hides in closet.
Yes, there is more. A lot more. The Sun Sentinel’s excellent article catalogues the catastrophic failures of multiple individuals in positions of authority, both those employed by the school and in local law enforcement. You should read the whole thing.
But here’s the takeaway.
I have a teenage daughter. The possibility of a school shooting has been a reality her entire life although it has certainly ramped up in recent years. Now that she’s in high school she’s in the age group most likely to be targeted.
Her friends expect to be saved. In the event of a school shooting they have been trained and drilled to shelter in place and to throw books or whatever is nearby at a killer. They have been trained to hide in clusters; they have been trained to take refuge in rooms with no exits and spaces with no windows.
These kids – your kids, your friends’ kids -are being taught to hide and wait it out because the cavalry is coming. The adults will save you.
No, they won’t.
I hope it isn’t only adults reading about the failures that took place during the Parkland murders. I hope teenagers read it too and, instead of blaming guns, they realize they must learn to take matters into their own hands when it comes to their self-defense.
My daughter has a plan – she’s had one for years, we simply improve it as she ages and changes schools – but her friends do not. One of the roughest things for her to hear is something I feel the need to remind her about at times: you are responsible for your own safety. You are not responsible for the safety of your friends. Yes, there’s more, but you get the idea.
Let’s backtrack a bit. What about 911? Well…
2:22:13 P.M.: The first 911 call.
Broward County’s disjointed 911 system slows the law enforcement response.
Because the first 911 call is from a cellphone, it goes to the city of Coral Springs. But the Sheriff’s Office handles police calls for neighboring Parkland, so the Coral Springs operator must waste precious minutes transferring the call to the Sheriff’s Office.
(Meanwhile, Deputy Scot Peterson is hiding himself outside Building 12, listening to the sound of gunfire inside the school.)
There were heroes on that day. Here’s the unpopular detail no one wants to admit: they were heroes, but they were ill-prepared. Rushing headlong into danger is brave, but doing it with no plan and no training tends to lead to exactly what we saw take place – the deaths of those heroic men. Men like the athletic director, Chris Hixon, and Aaron Feis, the campus monitor and football coach.
2:26:07 P.M.: [Four] more deputies [arrive and] hang back – even though they can hear gunshots.
And so it goes on.
You might be thinking it’s easy to Monday-morning-quarterback this kind of thing, and it is. But it’s also reasonable to be confident in your own abilities to behave differently if, God forbid, you should be faced with such a situation. This is why you should take the time and money to save up and take classes. There are high-quality active shooter interdiction classes being run at many locations including places like Gunsite Academy and Firearms Academy of Seattle. I can attest to the thoroughness and value of their courses.
Now, how does this help your kids? By increasing your own understanding of tactics and honing your skills, you are able to help should the situation ever arise. And you are also able to speak to your kids – how you talk to them varies by age and by child – and give them an educated, reasoned plan to follow if their school is ever under attack.
Some people feel this engenders fear and you will only terrify your kids. My opinion is that sheltering your kids from reality helps no one and could one day cost them their lives.
Choose your words wisely. Understand your particular child’s needs and capacity to process information. But for heaven’s sake don’t leave them in the dark and just hope it sorts itself out. Do you have a family plan regarding what to do if the house is on fire? This is the same thing.
There is a great deal I’d like to say but I’ll leave it at this. It is our responsibility as parents to protect and teach our kids. You simply can’t rely on others doing it.
In this day and age, that includes teaching and training them self-defense – heck, in any day and age that’s a given – and what to do in case a murderer enters their school. If hiding and throwing books are the extent of their school’s plan and their own plan, you have a problem.
There are many facets to this I haven’t listed, but you can likely figure it out on your own. Remember, it isn’t only you who are on your own. Your kids are on their own, too, even at school. Give them the tools necessary to survive.