Police officers who responded to the mass shooting at a Florida high school last week described the horrific scene inside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland on February 14, when Nikolas Cruz opened fire and killed 17 students and teachers.
According to the Sun Sentinel, Coral Springs police officers and dispatchers spoke to reporters on Friday about the harrowing ideal the week before. As CrimeOnline previously reported, the Broward County Sheriff’s department, which serves Parkland, has come under scrutiny amid reports that four deputies remained outside of the school as the massacre was taking place, directing other officers — including those from Coral Springs — to enter the building as they remained at a distance, in relative safety.
Members of the Coral Springs police department did not comment on the actions of the Broward County Sheriff’s department at the news conference, instead describing the scene as they encountered injured and mortally wounded students.
Officer Chris Crawford was one of the first to arrive on the scene, driving nearly 100 miles per hour to reach the school once he heard reports of the shooting. He arrived to find a 14-year-old boy who had been shot a “bunch of times” and was having trouble breathing. While waiting for paramedics to take over, the officer stuffed gauze in the boy’s wounds.
Officer Crawford then encountered a classroom where 70 students and teachers were hiding, and he had to work to convince them that he was so who he said he was before they would open the door to him,
“I forgot my phone or I would have FaceTimed with them,” Officer Crawford told reporters. “I had to negotiate with [them] to come out. I don’t blame them.”
Another officer responded to the school knowing that his wife, a teacher, and his son, a student, were there but didn’t know if they were ok.
Sgt. Jeff Heinrich also encountered a wounded student and attended to him while he awaited news of his wife and son’s condition.
They survived, “by the grace of God,” Sgt. Heinrich said. He told reporters that he planned to visit the student he helped, who is now recovering in the hospital.
“It was surreal,” he said. “You never hope it would happen and it did.”
A police dispatcher, Julie Vidaud, spoke of her harrowing decision after a female student called asking for instructions on how to perform CPR on two injured classmates. The dispatcher told reporters she felt the girl would be endangering herself and the other students hiding in a classroom with her if she were to try to aid the wounded students.
Officer Crawford told reporters that he fears for his own children’s safety.
The scene at the shooting was as “as bad as you can imagine — times 10,” he said. “I have a 2-year-old. I don’t want to send him to school.”
[Feature image: Associated Press]