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Broward Sheriff's Office Releases 911 Calls From Parkland School Shooting

Mar 9, 2018
Originally published on March 9, 2018 11:35 am

The Broward Sheriff's Office has come under scrutiny for the handling of its response to a gunman who opened fire at a South Florida high school last month, leaving 17 dead.

Gov. Rick Scott has called on the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to investigate local authorities' reaction to the mass shooting at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.

And, after numerous calls from the media and others to release 911 tapes from the Feb. 14 rampage, the Broward Sheriff's Office did so on Thursday.

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

For the first time, recordings of 911 calls from the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School have been made public. On Thursday, the Broward County Sheriff's Office released some of the 81 calls it received while the shooting was happening. As NPR's Brakkton Booker reports, this comes as the sheriff's office faces mounting scrutiny from the community and the media. And a note here - obviously, these 911 calls will be disturbing for some listeners.

BRAKKTON BOOKER, BYLINE: Parents outside the school, students inside the school and nearby neighbors began flooding 911 dispatchers shortly before school let out.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED DISPATCHER #1: 911, what is your emergency?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: I think I hear gunshots. It sounds like it's over towards the high school, over towards Douglas.

BOOKER: The man tells the dispatcher he lives 300 feet from the school and heard at least seven gunshots. In another call, a man says he got an alarming text.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: My fiancee's little sister just texted me and said there's someone in here shooting guns. He's upstairs. I'm scared.

UNIDENTIFIED DISPATCHER #2: Where is she?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: She's in a classroom. I told her to stay safe and hide. Has anyone else called about it?

UNIDENTIFIED DISPATCHER #2: Yeah, we do have some calls.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: Damn. That's scary. Is everyone OK?

UNIDENTIFIED DISPATCHER #2: They're still trying to do their investigation.

BOOKER: Along with the 911 tapes, the Broward Sheriff's Office also released partial recordings of police dispatchers communicating with deputies arriving on the scene. The tapes show just how chaotic it was at the school.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

SCOT PETERSON: We don't have any description here. We just hear shots - there appears to be shots fired.

BOOKER: The voice you heard was of Scot Peterson. He was the armed school resource officer assigned to Marjory Stoneman Douglas. He resigned after allegedly not following the department's active-shooter policy and go in after the gunman. Here's Peterson again giving what appears to be an order to set up a perimeter far from where the shooting took place.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PETERSON: Do not approach the 1200 or 1300 buildings. Stay at least 500 feet away at this point.

BOOKER: Jeff Bell is the president of the Broward Sheriff's Office Deputies Association.

JEFF BELL: That is the absolute wrong order to give.

BOOKER: Bell says he hopes the sheriff's office releases more details about the incident. He adds that the command should have been to enter the building, engage the shooter and remove the wounded. The alleged gunman, Nikolas Cruz, was formally indicted this week by a Florida grand jury on 17 counts of premeditated murder. Brakkton Booker, NPR News, Parkland, Fla.

(SOUNDBITE OF EVENINGS' "SOFTLY WE GO") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.