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Florida high school requiring clear backpacks, ID badges after shooting

Stoneman Douglas students arrested
Stoneman Douglas students arrested for bringing weapons to school 02:13

PARKLAND, Fla. -- When Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students return from spring break, they'll be required by the local school district to use clear backpacks and wear identification badges at all times. Broward Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie told parents in a two-page letter about the security changes. It said the backpacks will be given to students at no cost when they return to school on April 2. 

Runcie also noted that metal detectors may soon be installed at the school in Parkland, Florida, where a teenager who carried an assault weapon in a large bag killed 17 people on Valentine's Day.

Parents district-wide were told reinforced safety protocols will include expediting "single point entry" measures for visitors, locking all classroom doors and upgrading surveillance systems.

Meanwhile, already heightened security will be bolstered at the school on Thursday. Florida Gov. Rick Scott ordered eight highway patrol troopers to assist with securing the grounds -- a step that came after the shooting suspect's brother was arrested there, two students were caught carrying knives and another made online threats.

The troopers will be stationed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School indefinitely along with Broward County deputies, leaving an armed guard at every campus entrance point, Scott said in a statement. Before the shooting, the school was patrolled by one armed deputy and unarmed guards. An unspecified number of deputies, some armed with rifles, were added after the school reopened.

"Parents, students and teachers have recently endured one of the worst tragedies in Florida history," Scott said. "They must be assured that every necessary step is being taken to increase safety and ensure no unauthorized people are allowed on campus." 

Across U.S., Students Walk Out Of Schools To Address School Safety And Gun Violence
Students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School walk out of school to honor the memories of 17 classmates that were killed during a mass shooting at the school on March 14, 2018 in Parkland, Florida. Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The strengthened security comes three days after suspect Nikolas Cruz's younger brother, Zachary Cruz, was arrested on trespassing charges. Deputies said he was found Monday riding his skateboard on campus after dismissal after being told to stay away.

Zachary Cruz, 18, is being held on $500,000 bond and Broward County Judge Kim Theresa Mollica has approved a search of his home for weapons. The Broward Sheriff's Office wants him barred from possessing firearms and also involuntarily hospitalized for a mental health evaluation under a state law passed after the Feb. 14 shooting spree that killed 17.

Zachary and Nikolas, 19, both attended Stoneman Douglas. They shared the same biological mother but had different fathers. Both were adopted at very young ages by Roger and Lynda Cruz, who moved them into their Parkland home. Lynda Cruz died in November and their father died some years earlier.

In a separate case, Mollica imposed a $12,500 bail Wednesday on Jordan Salter, a Stoneman Douglas student who officials say pulled a small knife on a boy who she says was harassing her and a friend. The SunSentinel reports that Salter attorney Brian Reidy called the high bond "out of control" and "ridiculous" at a hearing and blamed it on fear from last month's rampage.

"I don't know when we all hit the fear button when everything is such an absolute emergency," Reidy told the judge. 

Salter, 18, was one of two students arrested recently for bringing a knife to school.

In another case, a 10th grader who was not identified "was removed from class for posting pictures on Snapchat depicting a handgun in his waistband and numerous bullets." BSO said the student stated the picture was "of a BB gun and the bullets were his father's." The student "...goes by a gamer tag name he created called, 'NickCruz'. He uses this gamer tag in the game Fortnite." The student has been committed for a psychological evaluation.

In yet another incident, BSO announced this week that Deputy Moises Carotti was suspended with pay after a student notified the school he was asleep in his patrol unit. 

Students calling for change after the Parkland shooting 14:10

Meanwhile, Florida residents won't get a chance to vote this fall on adding gun control restrictions to the state constitution. A state panel on Wednesday rejected several proposed restrictions on procedural grounds. A majority of the Florida Constitution Revision Commission voted that the gun control measures were out of order and couldn't be considered under commission rules. The commission is allowed to propose changes to the state constitution. 

Elsewhere, several media organizations including The Associated Press asked a judge to determine if additional surveillance video from the school shooting should be released. Last week, the Broward Sheriff's Office released a 27-minute video depicting ex-deputy Scot Peterson's actions remaining outside the building where the shooting took place.

Nickolas Cruz's attorney has said he will plead guilty to 17 counts of murder and 17 counts of attempted murder if prosecutors will waive the death penalty, which they have refused to do.

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