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Government Failure in Parkland, Florida

Government Failure in Parkland, Florida

The anti-gun production in Florida, so carefully stage-managed by CNN in a town hall-style event, was exposed as the propaganda it always was when … well, let’s hear the local sheriff and the deputy stationed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School tell us all about it.

“I think we got shots fired. Possible shots fired. 1200 building … All right. We also heard it’s over by inside the 1200 building,” said Deputy Scot Peterson to a police dispatcher. He said this while he waited outside the school, safe from the murderer shooting defenseless kids inside. There is security camera footage showing Peterson lingering outside. As this was being written, local newspapers were trying to force the Broward County Sheriff’s Office to release it.

Deputy Peterson would later say, through his attorney, that he thought the shots were coming from outside the school building. But on the recordings with the dispatcher, Peterson clearly says, and repeats, that the shots were coming from “inside” the building.

Minutes later, as he still waited outside, Peterson would tell the dispatcher: “Do not approach the 12 or 1300 building, stay at least 500 feet away.” The dispatcher would then repeat this to other responding Broward County deputies.

“The school resource officer [Scot Peterson] was behind a stairwell wall just standing there, and he had his gun drawn,” Brandon Huff, a senior at the school, would later say. “And he was just pointing it at the building. … Shots started going off inside. You could hear them going off over and over. And he was just talking on the radio, and he never did anything for four minutes. And he’s the only one with a gun. He’s wearing a bulletproof vest.”

Peterson’s boss, Sheriff Scott Israel, would later call Peterson a “deserter.”

President Donald J. Trump would call Peterson a “coward.” The media would attack the president for this for a few days.

At that carefully orchestrated CNN event, which took place before we knew how badly Israel, Peterson and other government officials had failed us, Sheriff Israel wouldn’t take any responsibility for the failures made by his department. Instead, he presented himself as the responsible and heroically selfless one in the storyline, while suggesting the National Rifle Association was to blame for the actions of a murderer. “You won’t be on [our] side, until you start pushing for less guns,” Israel told NRA spokesperson Dana Loesch at the CNN event.

This wasn’t just political rhetoric from a sheriff who is an elected Democrat. Even as he stood on that stage on national television, Israel knew—though the boisterous cnn audience didn’t yet have a clue—that Deputy Peterson cowered outside as a mass murderer killed unarmed kids inside. Actually, the very strategy Israel pushed at the cnn town hall affair—that we should only rely on the police to stop a bad guy with a gun, not an armed citizen—had failed horribly, and he knew it.

When the story began to shift, even CNN’s Jake Tapper got tough on Israel. He asked the sheriff, “Do you think, if your department had done things differently, this shooting might not have happened?”

... a caller from Massachusetts called the Sheriff’s office to report that Cruz was colleting guns and knives and could be a “school shooter in the making.”

Israel’s confusing reply would be just one of the quotes that would make even journalists who advocate for gun bans begin to treat Israel very differently. “If ‘ifs and buts’ were candy and nuts, O.J. Simpson would still be in the record books,” Israel said.

When pressed, Israel didn’t apologize, but instead bragged that he provided “amazing leadership” to the residents of Broward County. “I have led this county proudly … it’s not the responsibility of the general or the president if you have a deserter.”

Interestingly, in 2016, when Israel was confronted by reporters with the Sun Sentinel about his practice of giving soft, high-paying county jobs to campaign supporters and their family members, he said, “What have I done differently than Don Shula or Abraham Lincoln or Martin Luther King [or] Gandhi?”

The day after the murderer struck, Sheriff Israel was asked at a news conference whether armed guards might have stopped “something like this.” Israel said that “if a person is committed to committing great carnage, there’s not a lot law enforcement can do about it.”

Meanwhile, Israel argued that his deputies should be given the power to detain people without a warrant and that they should be able to bring them in for an “examination” against their will if the police found their social media posts disturbing.

The quote from Israel, a man who thinks so much of himself that he has his face plastered on the doors of patrol cars, that got the most coverage occurred when he responded to criticism of corruption back in 2016 by saying, “Lions don’t care about the opinions of sheep.”

The True Story CNN Should Have Been Telling
After the alleged killer left his gun in a stairway and walked to a Walmart to buy a soda, where he would be arrested, police officers finally entered the school building. But it was too late to save anyone.

This was hardly the first time local citizens were failed by government in this case.

Soon we would learn that Broward County deputies were called to the alleged murderer’s house dozens of times. On Feb. 5, 2016, a Broward County Sheriff’s Office deputy was told by an anonymous caller that Nikolas Cruz, the confessed killer, had threatened, on Instagram, to shoot up his school and that he posted a photo of himself with a gun to show he could do it.

On Sept. 23, 2016, a “peer counselor” reported to Deputy Peterson—the very man who cowered outside with his gun—that Cruz had possibly ingested gasoline in a suicide attempt, was masochistically cutting himself and that he wanted to buy a gun.

A few days later, an investigator for the Florida Department of Children and Families would decide Cruz wasn’t a danger and that, even as this investigator deemed Cruz not to be a threat, on Sept. 24, 2017, a YouTube user calling himself “Nikolas Cruz” would post a comment saying he wanted to become a “professional school shooter.” That statement was quickly reported to the FBI in Mississippi, but the fbi failed to make the connection to Cruz even though they had his name.

Barely a month later, on Nov. 1, 2017, Katherine Blaine, a relative of Cruz, called the Broward County Sheriff’s Office to report that Nikolas Cruz had weapons and to ask that police take them.

Then, on Nov. 30, 2017, a caller from Massachusetts called the Sheriff’s Office to report that Cruz was collecting guns and knives and could be a “school shooter in the making.”

Finally, on Jan. 5 of this year, another caller to the FBI’s tip line reported that Cruz has “a desire to kill people” and could potentially conduct a school shooting. That critical information was never passed on to the FBI’s Miami office.

Clearly, even as CNN commentators and some politicians were blaming American freedom and the NRA for the actions of a murderer, government in this case had failed us at every level.

These facts would prompt the Sun Sentinel to write an editorial demanding that Sheriff Israel and other officials come clean.

It would begin: “Since the Valentine’s Day shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, many government officials have walled off information needed to assess how well they did their jobs. At the head of the pack is Broward Sheriff Scott Israel, who suggests the school’s resource officer acted cowardly during the mass shooting and two deputies mishandled earlier warnings. Aside from that, though, the sheriff wants you to take his word that he and his deputies did amazing work before, during and after the shooting. But that’s not how it works. To hold government accountable, we need a better picture of what happened. And that means we need to see the evidence ourselves, starting with the security video taken outside the school.”

Government Has Failed Us Before
Since Columbine in 1999, police departments have been trained not to wait for SWAT teams in school shooting situations. Nevertheless, in this case they didn’t go right in. Government has, in retrospect, actually failed us in such cases many times since Columbine. Of course, before presenting specific instances of government failure, it should be emphasized that police officers and other first responders certainly do heroic things to save people every day and night in the United States. We realize and appreciate this.

The FBI missed the Tsarnaevs (the brothers who committed the Boston Marathon bombing) despite being warned by the Russian government, and the FBI didn’t get wind of the 9/11 plots, even though the agency was investigating Zacarias Moussaoui at the time. The San Bernardino terrorists were similarly missed (in a state that has a strict semi-auto ban, incidentally). The Pulse nightclub terrorist, Omar Mateen, was missed as well.

The U.S. military failed to contribute the names of those convicted of major crimes or those who were dishonorably discharged to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), which allowed  a mentally ill killer to slaughter people in a Sutherland Springs, Texas, church. Thankfully, an NRA member with a rifle stepped in to end that travesty.

Government also disarmed military personnel in order to create “gun-free zones” at Fort Hood, Chattanooga and the Washington Naval Yard, making it easy for murderers to kill defenseless victims in those places.

We should point out that the government does already have tools it can use—other than the media’s favorite false remedy of more gun control—to stop a potential killer.

Cruz, for example, was known as a danger by neighbors, school officials, social workers and law enforcement. He literally threatened to kill classmates—he said this to students—and was moved multiple times to different schools because of behavioral problems. Nevertheless, officers thought there was nothing they could do.

Someone in the local government should have told them they had legal options. Cruz’s threats to other students, for example, could have been classified as aggravated cyberstalking, which is a felony. As such, with a judge’s approval they could have taken his guns. There is also a Florida law against making written threats to kill. Just posting bond in Broward County on a felony charge would have required Cruz to surrender his guns, the Miami Herald reported.

The Truth About Freedom
It’s also important to understand that though police officers have signed up to save us—and do so every day and night in this great nation—in Warren v. District of Columbia (1981) the District of Columbia Court of Appeals ruled that cops actually have no duty to protect us. In this case, two women were upstairs in a D.C. townhouse when they heard the sounds of a break-in and their roommate downstairs screaming. They called 911 and were told that officers were on the way. After about 30 minutes, when their roommate’s screams had stopped, the two women assumed the police had taken care of the situation, but then they ran into the intruders and were subjected to a heinous criminal assault. The three women sued the District for failing to protect them, but D.C’s highest court exonerated the District and its police, saying that it is a “fundamental principle of American law that a government and its agents are under no general duty to provide public services, such as police protection, to any individual citizen.”

Such is why any logical reading of recent events, court decisions and more leads us to again understand that while we must hold government accountable for failures, we must also take responsibility for our own safety—especially until first responders arrive. To do so, we need our Second Amendment rights kept intact. The so-called “mainstream” media’s kneejerk reaction of blaming freedom isn’t just wrongheaded, it also gets good people killed. 

Frank Miniter is the author of Kill Big Brother, his latest novel, that shows how to keep government from infringing on our liberties. He is a contributor to Forbes and writes for many publications. His website is FrankMiniter.com.