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February 23, 2018

The sheriff's deputy assigned to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, took up position outside the school last week about 90 seconds after the suspected 19-year-old gunman started firing, then waited outside for the remaining four minutes of the deadly rampage, Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said Thursday. "He never went in." Seventeen people were killed during the six minutes of shooting. The deputy, Scot Peterson, was armed and in uniform, and he should have "went in, addressed the killer, killed the killer," Israel said. "I'm devastated, sick to my stomach." He said he informed Peterson on Thursday he was suspended without pay pending an internal affairs investigation, but Peterson chose to resign instead.

Peterson, 54, had been with the Broward County Sheriff's Office since 1985, and a school resource officer at the high school since 2009. "The investigation will continue" into Peterson's performance, Israel said. "When we in law enforcement arrive to an active shooter, we go in and address the target and that's what should have been done." Before the Columbine High School shooting in 1999, officers were generally told to wait outside until a SWAT team arrived, but now they are told to confront the shooter, even if, like Peterson, they are alone and outgunned. Research has shown that an officer on the scene can slow down or stop a suspect, USA Today reports, even though about a third of those officers are shot.

The Broward County Sheriff's Office also released information on 23 calls related to the suspected shooter going back a decade, progressing from suicide concerns to fears about him harming others, including calls in February 2016 and November 2017 expressing fears that the suspect might shoot up a school. Israel said he has placed two deputies on restricted duty while the department looks into whether they mishandled tips about the suspect. Peter Weber

February 21, 2018

There were four more funerals Tuesday for students slain last week in Parkland, Florida. But "as these kids buried their friends, some sick conspiracy theories have been cropping up," Anderson Cooper said on CNN Tuesday night. One claims the student survivors demanding new gun laws are "crisis actors" and another insists student David Hogg is a gun-grabbing "pawn" of the FBI.

"While we'd normally be reluctant to even give these conspiracy theories any oxygen at all," Donald Trump Jr. rewteeted the FBI one, making it "newsworthy," Cooper said. "We'd love to talk to Don Jr. about why he did that, why he is, by extension, attacking these kids who just buried their friends, but it turns out he's in India promoting his father's real estate empire." Instead, he had on Hogg and his father, former FBI employee Kevin Hogg. David Hogg called the conspiracy theories "unbelievable," said Don Jr.'s retweet was "disgusting to me," and judged it "hilarious" that anybody would think his dog-cuddling dad is pulling his strings.

In Cooper's panel discussion, Jack Kingston insisted he "would never say" that the kids are crisis actors, but he did repeat his more respectable conspiracy theory about George Soros controlling the Parkland students. "It would shock me if they did a nationwide rally and the pro–gun control left took their hands off it," he said.

"When you say something like that, it's so bad, and I'm going to tell you why it's bad," Van Jones told Kingston. But Parkland student Sarah Chadwick had already beaten him to the punch. Peter Weber

February 21, 2018

It appears Dallas officials aren't the only ones rethinking the National Rifle Association's May meeting in Texas. Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) was listed as a featured speaker at the NRA's leadership forum, Steve Bousquet wrote at The Tampa Bay Times on Tuesday, and his "office confirmed the invitation, but said no decision has been made on whether he will attend." By Wednesday morning, as a Florida Daily Kos diarist noted, Scott was no longer on the NRA's list of speakers.

The NRA calls its annual conference "a must stop for candidates seeking the highest levels of elective office," Bousquet notes, and Scott, a featured speaker at its 2017 conference, is one of the group's favorites. After Scott pushed through a number of laws loosening gun restrictions, the NRA gave him "its highest compliment, an A-plus rating, as the NRA flooded Florida homes with millions of mailers to help Scott clinch re-election four years ago." After last week's school shooting in Parkland, Florida, Bousquet says, "suddenly, the NRA's A-plus rating looks like an albatross, a potential drag on Scott's expected run for the U.S. Senate." Peter Weber

February 20, 2018
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The Department of the Army has recognized three of the teenagers killed last week in the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, giving each one a Medal of Heroism, the highest honor for JROTC students.

Peter Wang, Alaina Petty, and Martin Duque were all cadets in the Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps, and their families have either been given or will soon receive keepsake medals. During the attack last week, Wang helped his classmates to safety, and he was wearing his uniform when he was shot. It was his dream to attend the United States Military Academy, also known as West Point, and the USMA announced Tuesday it granted Wang posthumous admission. In a statement, West Point called Wang "a brave young man" whose actions "exemplified the tenets of duty, honor, and country." Wang was buried on Tuesday, wearing his uniform. Catherine Garcia

February 20, 2018
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Scott Beigel, one of the three teachers and coaches shot dead in last week's Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida, was buried Sunday. During his funeral at Temple Beth El in Boca Raton, his fiancée, Gwen Gossler, recounted a story about when she and Beigel were watching TV coverage of a previous school shooting. "Promise me if this ever happens to me, you will tell them the truth — tell them what a jerk I am, don't talk about the hero stuff," she recalled Beigel telling her, according to the New York Post. "Okay, Scott, I did what you asked," she added. "Now I can tell the truth. You are an amazingly special person. You are my first love and my soulmate."

Beigel, 35, was a geography teacher and cross country coach, and he was shot by the gunman while trying to protect students by locking them in his classroom. "He unlocked the door and let us in," student Kelsey Friend told ABC News. "I had thought he was behind me, but he wasn't. When he opened the door, he had to relock it so we could stay safe, but he didn't get the chance to. ... If the shooter had come in the room, I probably wouldn't be [alive]." Beigel "was my hero and he will forever be my hero," Friend told CNN. Sixteen other people were killed and 15 wounded in the mass shooting.

Beigel wasn't alone in contemplating being a human shield. "Across the country, teachers are grappling with how their roles have expanded, from educator and counselor to bodyguard and protector," The New York Times reports. "Last night I told my wife I would take a bullet for the kids," Robert Parish, a teacher at an elementary school just miles from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High, told a union hall crowded with Broward County teachers on Saturday. Since the shooting, "I think about it all the time." Peter Weber

February 19, 2018
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Peter Wang died a hero, and his friends from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School want his burial to reflect that.

Wang, 15, was one of 17 people killed last week during a mass shooting at the school in Parkland, Florida. Witnesses said Wang, who was a Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps cadet, was helping his fellow students to safety when he was fatally shot. His friend Aiden Ortiz has put together a petition asking for Wang, who was wearing his JROTC uniform when he was killed, to be buried with full military honors. "I want people to know that he died a hero, that he died saving many people," Ortiz told WPLG. Classmate Rachel Kuperman also remembered Wang as a caring person, saying that last Tuesday, one day before the shooting, she forgot her lunch, and Wang bought her candy, snacks, and a Sprite from a vending machine. "He put others before himself," she said.

The petition is on the White House's We the People site, and if more than 86,000 people sign it, the White House will respond. As of Monday night, the petition had more than 33,000 signatures. Wang's funeral will be held on Tuesday. Catherine Garcia

February 19, 2018
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On Monday, President Trump offered his support to a bill introduced by Sens. John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) last November to improve federal background checks on gun purchases. "The president spoke to Sen. Cornyn on Friday about the bipartisan bill he and Sen. Murphy introduced," White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement. "While discussions are ongoing and revisions are being considered, the president is supportive of efforts to improve the federal background check system."

Cornyn and Murphy introduced the legislation after the church shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas, and Trump did not back it at the time. The bill would require all federal agencies to report criminal and mental health records to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) and introduce financial incentives to encourage state and local agencies to enter such records into the federal gun background database, too. The National Rifle Association supports the bill, Talking Points Memo points out.

Trump is holding two gun-related events this week, after last week's mass school shooting n Parkland, Florida: a "listening session" with high school students and teachers, and a meeting with state and local officials on "school safety." Peter Weber

February 18, 2018

Floridians gathered in downtown Fort Lauderdale Saturday to rally for stricter gun laws in response to Wednesday's deadly shooting at a high school in nearby Parkland. The crowd of several thousand heard from students who survived the attack.

"We are going to be the last mass shooting," said one student, Emma Gonzalez, whose impassioned speech was shared widely online. "We are going to change the law. That's going to be Marjory Stoneman Douglas [High School] in that textbook."

Gonzalez targeted President Trump for special criticism. "If the president wants to come up to me and tell me to my face that it was a 'terrible tragedy,'" she said, "I'm going to happily ask him how much money he received from the National Rifle Association." As Gonzalez noted, Trump's presidential campaign was supported by about $30 million in ad buys by the NRA.

"If you don't do anything to prevent this from continuing to occur," she charged, "that number of gunshot victims will go up and the number that they are worth will go down. And we will be worthless to you." Watch the full speech below. Bonnie Kristian

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