PARKLAND — Time and again we’re treated to the old canard, “It takes a good guy with a gun to stop a bad guy with a gun.” Evidence coming out of Parkland following February’s mass shooting suggests otherwise, though.
Firstly, school resource officer Scot Peterson was present at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School when the massacre that killed 17 students and teachers took place. Peterson hid outside the school and did not enter.
“It makes me sick to my stomach that we had a deputy that didn’t go in, because I know, if I was there, if I was on the wall, I would have been the first in, along with so many of the other people,” said Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel.
Leaving aside Israel’s misunderstanding about how “many” people can be “first,” the sheriff’s bravado has been shown to be without foundation by recently-released reports from the Coral Springs Police Department who responded to the shooting.
Three other Broward County deputies responded to the shooting as well, but also neglected to go into the school, ostensibly because they could not determine the shooter’s location.
Coral Springs PD Officer Bryan Wilkins took issue with that account. Wilkins stated in his report that he arrived at the school to find one of the Broward deputies hiding behind a tree rather than attempting to apprehend the shooter or help the victims. The deputy made plain to Wilkins that he knew where the shooter was.
Wilkins, it seems, was made of sterner stuff.
“I saw approximately four Broward County Sheriff’s Office vehicles parked [near the school],” he wrote, “… with their personnel taking up exterior positions behind their vehicles. I drove up just west of the campus building 1200, exited my vehicle, grabbed my AR-15 rifle and donned on my tactical/medical gear.”
Also entering the building was Gil Monzon, a Coral Springs detective, and—finally—one Broward County deputy who was apparently able to screw up the courage to eventually enter the fray.
The Coral Springs PD continued to respresent itself well with the arrival of Sergeant Nick Mazzei, who also immediately moved past the cowering Broward County deputies to enter the building.
The deputies needn’t have feared by this point, as the shooter was already gone.
Peterson was forced to resign amid the backlash against what many viewed as abject cowardice, and Israel is currently fielding a no-confidence vote from his union for his oversight of the affair.
It turns out that the fabled “good guy with a guy” is actually only as good as he is willing to put himself in harm’s way, something that’s clearly a far sight harder to do than many would acknowledge, even for individuals with training.