FHP Troopers to Guard Stoneman Douglas Amid Security Issues

Gov. Scott deploying 8 FHP troopers to school to "help secure entry points" and keep students safe

What to Know

  • New incidents including students found with weapons, a sleeping deputy and the suspect's brother's trespassing have raised safety concerns
  • Scott said the troopers will report for duty Thursday morning at the school to "help secure entry points" and keep students safe

Just a month after the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School made security a priority, new incidents this week including students found with weapons, a sleeping on-duty deputy and the alleged trespassing of the shooting suspect's brother on campus have raised more safety questions at the Parkland school.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott said he's deploying eight Florida Highway Patrol troopers to the school, while Broward Sheriff Scott Israel released a statement Wednesday saying that every deputy will be held accountable and "any failure to protect the public will not be tolerated."

Meanwhile, Broward County Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie said security at the school "continues to be an urgent priority."

"Given the developments over the past 24 hours, we will further enhance school safety measures," Runcie tweeted Tuesday.

Among the measures being taken at all Broward schools is that all students and staff will be required to wear IDs while on campus. School officials say classroom doors will be locked at all times and exterior doors and gates will stay locked throughout the day.

The district is working on limiting access to one entry point at the schools and a plan expected to be in place by the first quarter of 2019. The district is also expecting about $8.5 million to place at least one resource officer at every school for the next school year.

When Marjory Stoneman Douglas students return from spring break on April 2, they'll be required to use clear backpacks, which will be given to students at no cost. Runcie said metal detectors may soon be installed at the school as well.

The measures are being taken after it was learned a deputy fell asleep while on duty Monday at the school where 17 people were killed last month. A Broward Sheriff's Office news release says Deputy Moises Carotti was suspended with pay Tuesday pending the outcome of an internal affairs investigation.

The release says a student approached a sheriff's office sergeant who was patrolling the interior of Stoneman Douglas shortly after 5 p.m. Monday and told the sergeant that Carotti was asleep in his patrol car. The sergeant reported finding the marked patrol vehicle and waking Carotti with a knock on the window. Another deputy was sent to replace Carotti for that shift.

"The Broward Sheriff’s Office holds its 5,400 employees to the highest professional standards. No one expects more from our agency’s public safety personnel than I do, which is why BSO is thoroughly investigating the conduct of Dep. Moises Carotti," Israel said in the statement. "Every single deputy will be held accountable for his or her actions, and any failure to protect the public will not be tolerated."

Earlier Monday afternoon, 18-year-old Zachary Cruz, the brother of shooting suspect Nikolas Cruz, was arrested at the school on a trespassing charge. Authorities said Zachary Cruz rode his skateboard onto the campus, even though he had been warned not to visit the school, and told deputies he was there to "reflect on the school schooling and to soak it in."

A judge on Tuesday set a $500,000 bond for Zachary Cruz and ordered him to stay away from the school if he's released. The judge also said the home where he is living in Palm Beach County should be searched for weapons.

After the hearing, BSO filed for a risk protection order against Zachary Cruz. If a judge approves the request, Cruz would be hospitalized for a mental health evaluation and barred from acquiring firearms.

Also on Tuesday, officials said a Stoneman Douglas student was arrested for making threatening social media posts, while two others were arrested in separate, unrelated incidents for bringing knives to school.

Deputies say they received a tip Tuesday that a male student at Stoneman Douglas had posted pictures of a gun and bullets on Snapchat with threatening messages. The 10th-grader was involuntarily hospitalized for mental health reasons.

Deputies say a female student dumped cereal on a male student's head and pulled a 2-inch knife on him Tuesday morning after he made an obscene comment to her friend. Officials said they also found a 9-inch knife in a male student's backpack Tuesday after another student had reported he was brandishing the weapon on the bus a day earlier.

On Wednesday, Scott said the troopers will report for duty Thursday morning at the school to "help secure entry points" and keep students safe.

"We will stop at nothing to protect our schools and our students," Scott tweeted.

Israel said he welcomed Scott's offer and thanked him for his continued support.

"The safety of the people of Broward County is my number one priority, and through a collaborative, all-hands-on-deck approach, we are working to ensure that nothing like the February 14th tragedy happens again," Israel said in a statement.

Andrew Pollack, father of shooting victim Meadow Pollack, was named to a Florida commission to study mass shootings and school safety Tuesday, and said more needs to be done.

"Not on my watch," Pollack said in a Facebook video post. "I'm not gonna tolerate that stuff. Sheriff sleeping, open perimeter, anyone can walk in. It's really just common sense, I'm not even an expert. It just bothers me how no one can really care and all the incompetence, the incompetence that's going on in Parkland right now."

Copyright AP - Associated Press
Contact Us