The shooting Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School last week has brought into sharp focus the manner warning signals were ignored. Yet, as more details emerge, authorities are having to explain why a few armed deputies didn’t confront the shooter. While the sheriff is devoting profuse apologies for his deputies’ activities, another service is looking exceptionally heroic.
A second department responded to the crisis, though. The Coral Springs Police Department arrived at the high school and found the BSO sheriff’s deputies hiding behind their own cars. So Coral Springs charged into the school!
Many people have called upon Broward Sheriff Israel to resign because his failed leadership that failed to identify the shooter after 20 plus visits and his deputies hiding while the shooting took place at the school.
As word of the spread, tensions are rising. The day following the shooting, officers out of 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.”
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.
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.
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.