On February 14, 2018, tragedy struck South Florida. A gunman, who will not be named so as to not give him the attention that he so desperately wants, shot 34 young people at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. 17 people were injured, and 17 people passed on.
This catastrophe has shaken the South Florida community to its core. We want to help you understand what has happened since that terrible event.
The alleged shooter has been charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder, and has been held without bond. If he is convicted of first degree murder, he may face the death penalty or a life sentence without the possibility of parole. Although he has confessed to his crimes, he has not pleaded guilty. The public defender has suggested that they will not accept a plea deal unless the death penalty is removed as a possibility. This is not likely.
Many people have criticized the actions of both the school and law enforcement in the wake of the massacre. The school knew that the alleged shooter had a history of making threats and of other harmful activities. The Florida Department of Children and Families found that he was at “low risk of harming himself or others”. The school failed to act on credible warnings.
The FBI had been warned about Cruz. They did not take any action to stop the alleged shooter. The alleged shooter may have made a comment on a YouTube video, but the FBI was not able to track down who the commenter was. The FBI also might have received a tip about the alleged shooter but failed to act on it.
Broward County law enforcement has also earned the ire of many. The school resource deputy did not enter the building while the shooting was taking place. When other Broward County deputies arrived, they chose to form a perimeter around the school as opposed to confronting the shooter immediately. This is in violation of standard procedure.
Because of the repeated failure on the part of the authorities, some have chosen to file a lawsuit against the Broward Sheriff’s Office, the FBI, the Broward School Board, and Henderson Behavioral Health.
The shooting has sparked a massive debate about guns in the United States. Victims of the shooting have insisted that they are going to be the last mass shooting, and have started a massive campaign to end gun violence. Hundreds protested the proliferation of firearms in downtown Fort Lauderdale, and the #NeverAgain campaign has gone viral on Twitter.
Senate Bill 7026 is currently one signature away from becoming law. The controversial bill would allow for the arming of teachers in certain circumstances, and would raise the age to purchase a firearm from 18 to 21. It would also give law enforcement more authority to take firearms from people that are deemed mentally unfit.
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