Florida School's Armed Sheriff's Deputy Didn't Stop Shooter. Too Bad He Wasn't A Math Teacher.
Time to add one more data point to all future "what if" arguments about last week's massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School: The school's resource officer, Broward County Sheriff's Deputy Scot Peterson, didn't enter the school during the shooting rampage. Instead, we learned yesterday, security video showed that during the six minutes of the attack, Peterson took a position outside the building where the killing was going on and didn't go inside.
In a press briefing, Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said Peterson was armed and in uniform, but didn't go into the building to have a gunfight with a teenager wielding a semiautomatic assault rifle:
“What I saw was a deputy arrive at the west side of Building 12, take up a position, and never went in,” Israel said [...]
When asked what the deputy should have done, Israel said: “Went in and addressed the killer. Killed the killer.”
Israel suspended Peterson yesterday, after which the deputy resigned. Israel said that Peterson had been in another building when the shooting began, then moved toward the building where the shots were being fired.
“I think he took up a position where it looked like he could see the western-most entry into the building and stayed where he was,” Israel said. “Never went in.”
Israel said he “clearly” knew there was a shooter inside, something that made him “sick to my stomach.”
Thank heavens, Donald Trump, who bases all his thinking about gun policy on the many action movies he's seen, has offered his expert analysis of Peterson's action, as reported by Fox News:
"When it came time to get in there and do something, he didn't have the courage, or something happened," Trump said. "He certainly did a poor job. That's the case where somebody was outside, they are trained, they didn't react properly under pressure or they were a coward."
The Washington Post adds that Trump did not, however, answer questions about whether an armed, trained professional's hesitancy to go up against a shooter with a far more powerful semiautomatic rifle made him question the wisdom of calling for 20 percent of the nation's teachers to voluntarily carry concealed handguns.
Fox News notes that, now that Peterson has been officially branded a coward by the "president" of the United States, his home is being guarded by law enforcement. No, we're not going to look on Twitter for people demanding the guards be withdrawn so they can kill him.
WaPo explains that Peterson's actions don't conform with what have become standard police tactics for police responses to mass shootings:
Ever since the 1999 attack at Colorado’s Columbine High School, authorities have emphasized the importance of pursuing the attacker or attackers quickly in an effort to eliminate the threat and prevent additional deaths.
“Columbine resulted in new approaches in which patrol officers are being trained to respond to active shooters as quickly as possible,” the Police Executive Research Forum, a think tank backed by major-cities chiefs, wrote in a 2014 report.
Of course, that report also acknowledged that "officers who quickly move to confront an active shooter face a high likelihood of being shot themselves.” Further, as Texas State University professor J. Peter Blair notes in one section, while about half of mass shooting events are over by the time police arrive, it's also not uncommon for a single officer to arrive on the scene before the larger police response gets there. In those "solo entry" situations, there's often a good outcome -- but often at a price:
It's entirely open to debate whether the slaughter inside the school could have been stopped had Peterson gone in and engaged the shooter. Maybe he could have shot the assailant and ended the tragedy. Maybe he would have become another victim (and yes, according to policy and training, he was supposed to try). Maybe in all the chaos, he couldn't have gotten a clear shot, or wouldn't have gotten to the shooter before he got rid of his AR-15 before escaping by blending in with the students fleeing the building. Maybe, God forfend, he'd have accidentally hit an unarmed student instead of the killer. All sorts of endless possibilities for internet Crime Scene Investigators to fight over.
To add to the confusion, we also learned yesterday that because there was a 20-minute delay between what was actually going on inside the school and what was being seen on the school's surveillance displays, Coral Springs police who arrived at the office were confused about what was really going on: They thought they were viewing live images of the shooter in the building, when in fact he had already left. Police are saying this may have led to the delay in arresting the suspect, but didn't affect the outcome of the shooting -- it was all over by the time they arrived.
While that Police Executive Research Forum report acknowledges that in some cases a school resource officer may be the only law enforcement on scene well before other police arrive, it doesn't appear to include any examples of a resource officer engaging a shooter alone. Future reviews, of course, will have to account for the fact that sometimes officers freeze.
Fortunately, once we have 20 percent of schoolteachers packing heat at all times, that will never be a concern again. Everything will go perfectly next time, the shooter will be neutralized, and we'll all feel so safe that we'll never have to try to keep powerful killing machines out of the hands of would-be murderers. Also, please ignore all those combat vets calling for the revival of the assault weapons ban. What do they even know about the glories of going up against heavily armed bad guys with only a pistol? (Here's the one possible time the "armed more heavily" gang might MAYBE have a point.)
Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.