The shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School last week has brought into sharp focus the way warning signs were ignored. Yet, as more details emerge, authorities are having to explain why some armed deputies didn’t confront the shooter. While the sheriff is issuing profuse apologies for his deputies’ actions, another agency is looking exceptionally heroic.
Let’s begin with a recap of the day’s revelations. Thursday evening, the Broward County Sheriff announced that one of his deputies, an armed school resource officer, stayed outside of the building as the shooter went on his rampage.
Today, the same department had to acknowledge that none of their deputies entered the building during the shooting. Instead, they were positioned outside of the building.
Broward County Sheriff’s Deputy Scot Peterson, the armed school resource officer, resigned. The controversy is far from over.
A second department responded to the emergency, though. The Coral Springs Police Department arrived at the high school and found the sheriff’s deputies hiding behind their cars. So Coral Springs led the way.
As word of this spread, tensions are rising. The day after the shooting, officers from Coral Springs and Broward Country attended a candlelit vigil for victims.
“Coral Springs City Manager Mike Goodrum angrily confronted Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel,” The Daily Mail reports, “in front of a dozen witnesses, over the claims that Israel’s officers had remained outside the high school while students could have been bleeding out inside.”
“Given the horrific events of that day, emotions were running high and the sheriff and I had a heated moment the following evening,” Goodrum told CNN.
“Sheriff Israel and I have spoken several times since and I can assure you that our departments have a good working relationship and the utmost respect for each other.”
That, though, seems to be an effort to calm tensions that are continuing to escalate.
Coral Springs Police Chief Tony Pustizzi (above) sent an internal email that expressed his department’s frustrations.
“I understand that another agency has given the impression that it had provided the majority of the rescue efforts, and that the tremendous work of the Coral Springs Police and Fire Departments has not been recognized,” he said in the email.
“Please know that this issue will be addressed, and the truth will come out in time.”
Well now the truth is out, and the heroism of the Coral Springs Police deserves to be mentioned.
We can now thank Sgt. Jeff Heinrich of the Coral Springs Police Department. Sgt. Heinrich was off duty and unarmed at the time of the shooting. He has close ties to the school, and was actually on campus, watering a baseball field, when the shooting started.
Sgt. Heinrich’s wife is an assistant athletic director at the school. His son is a student. Sgt. Heinrich was wearing shorts and a t-shirt, and was unarmed.
When the fire alarm went off, he didn’t think it was unusual. The panic that ensued changed his mind. When he heard shots, he ran toward the sound of the gunfire. On his way to the school, he found a student who had been shot in the leg. Sgt. Heinrich moved the boy to a dugout and stabilized him with supplies in the baseball team’s first-aid kit.
He then ran back to the school. There, he met a Coral Springs SWAT team member who had extra gear. Sgt. Heinrich threw on an extra vest (one that wasn’t rated to stop rifle fire). The SWAT officer handed over his sidearm so Sgt. Heinrich wouldn’t be unarmed, and they entered the building.
Sgt. Heinrich ran into the chaos. He didn’t wait outside. The officers from Coral Springs led the way. Behind them, paramedics were able to triage and treat the wounded. The SWAT medics from Coral Springs provided crucial support.
The Broward County Sheriff’s Department went in after Coral Springs. This isn’t an attempt to minimize the contributions of those deputies, but to celebrate the heroism of those that took the lead.
Here’s the video of Sgt. Heinrich talking through his actions. It takes him a while to regain his composure.
This video captures some of the tensions that are mounting for the Broward County Sheriff’s Department.
For those of you who want to see the whole news conference, it can be found here: