As the details behind the Police response to the Valentines Day massacre emerge, it appears that the Coral Springs Police department – which sent 130 officers to the scene – put their lives on the line while Broward County officers simply waited for backup as the scene unfolded, in what some Coral Springs officials perceived to be a derilection of duty.
Some Coral Springs police were stunned and upset that the four original Broward County Sheriff’s deputies who were first on the scene did not appear to join them as they entered the school, Coral Springs sources tell CNN. It’s unclear whether the shooter was still in the building when they arrived.
The four Broward Sheriff’s deputies, including fired High School Resource Officer Scot Peterson, had their pistols drawn from behind the safety of their vehicles, and “not one of them had gone into the school,” according to shocked Coral Springs police.
The Coral Springs officers, meanwhile, entered the building soon after they arrived on scene to confront the shooter, while the four Broward County Sheriff’s deputies remained outside until two more officers arrived on scene along with an officer from neighboring Sunrise city.
What these Coral Springs officers observed — though not their feelings about it — will be released in a report, likely next week. Sources cautioned that tapes are currently being reviewed and official accounts could ultimately differ from recollections of officers on the scene.
According to the Coral Springs Chief of Police, Anthony Pustizzi, roughly 40 of the 130 officers rushed into the building after the initial officers responded, where they carried 23 victims were carried out to medics, 20 of whom survived.
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Two days after the shooting, Putstizzi sent an internal email to his officers obtained by CNN which reads “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. Please know that this issue will be addressed, and the truth will come out in time.”
The resentment among Coral Springs officials toward Broward County officials about what they perceived to be a dereliction of duty may have reached a boiling point at a vigil the night of February 15, where, in front of dozens of others, Coral Springs City Manager Mike Goodrum confronted Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel.
Meanwhile, the Coral Springs Sheriff has publicly commented on the shooting. “I’ve been a police officer for 30 years,” Pustizzi said at a press conference. “You know, humans aren’t meant to see this kind of tragedy, but the officers that went in there, the dispatchers that heard it, the firemen that treated the people — you know, there’s obviously a lot of support that needs to be given to them, as well.”
“I’m thinking, you know, this is a real one. You train for this day. You hope it never happens, but you only have one way and that’s straight in, and you hope that a bullet doesn’t find you, as well, but that’s a possibility,” said Pustizzi.