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MSD Public Safety Commission Focuses Hearing On Cruz Threatening Behavior, 911 Call Handling

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SUNRISE (CBSMiami) – The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission focused on two things at their meeting on Tuesday — dozens of people who knew about Nikolas Cruz's odd behavior and threats and didn't report anything until after the tragedy and how 911 calls on the day of the shooting were handled by law enforcement.

When Nikolas Cruz opened fire inside the Freshman Building at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School last February the panicked 911 calls from students and teachers went to Coral Springs 911, instead of the Broward Regional 911 centers.

On some of the early calls from the shooting, you can gunshots in the background. It is disturbing.

As the shots are exploding, a 911 dispatcher asks, "Are they getting closer to you?" The student responds, "Yeah."

CBS4 News reported extensively on this issue on Monday, describing how only a fraction of the 911 calls from inside the school were transferred to BSO.

Commission Chair Piniellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said that likely deprived BSO of critical information because they are the agency that was responsible for law enforcement in Parkland.

"You've got Broward Sheriff's Office regional communications, the one responsible for sending the deputies, that's clueless," Gualtieri said. "You've got Coral Springs that's got a plethora of information but it wasn't conveyed over to Broward."

CBS4 News also reported about certain 911 calls not being transferred from Coral Springs to BSO alerting them to specific information about where the shooting was occurring and what was unfolding inside the building.

"This call taker cannot relay this information to Broward because there have no radio communications with them," Gualtieri said. "This call was not transferred."

But some calls were transferred to BSO, including a call into Coral Springs early on in the shooting. Plus, BSO had an armed school resource deputy — Scot Peterson — on campus at the time of the shooting.

He remained outside the Freshman building.

Fred Guttenberg's daughter Jamie died in the shooting. He says at the first word of a shooting there should have been a massive law enforcement response.

"In every instance, there was failure. Every instance," Guttenberg said. "There should have been an army of police cars going."

Commissioners also heard from investigators in detail about the odd and threatening behavior of Nikolas Cruz.

They focused on the failure of about 30 people to report anything that they knew about Cruz's pictures with knives and guns, making threatening statements about violence against his school, repeatedly killing animals and using hate speech against people or groups.

An investigator told the Commission that two students said they went to tell school administrators more than a year before the shooting. Gualtieri said that school administrators denied being told this information.

Max Schachter, whose son Alex died in the shooting, said non-reporting is a problem at the school.

"That's the cultures of sweeping everything under the rug," Schachter said. "They're all involved in protecting that school. It starts with the leadership."

The commission continues throughout the week. Later this week there is time setup for former BSO School Resource Officer Scot Peterson to testify. It's unclear if he'll show up. The commission will also hear from School Superintendent Robert Runcie and Broward Sheriff Scott Israel.

Parent Tony Montalto's daughter Gina was murdered.  He listened to the shortcomings discussed by the commission along with other parents.

"We had faith in those charged with caring for our children, spouses and other staff members, clearly many failures occurred leading up to and on February 14th," he said.

"Everybody failed," added Guttenberg. "And this is going to be the shooting where we hold people accountable. You know what, people are going to pay a price."

In this case, the FBI is facing a lawsuit from Guttenberg.

It alleges the FBI failed to pass along crucial tips about the confessed killer to the local FBI office.

"Had they followed the protocol, this killer would have been potentially apprehended a month earlier and you'd have 17 people alive today," said Guttenberg.

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