I listened tonight to some of the emergency dispatch calls in the moments following the first calls for help from inside the high school in Parkland, Florida. Dispatchers are trained to perform their duties dispassionately. The Broward County dispatchers fulfilled that duty. But as the minutes ticked by you can sense the increasing urgency from the school grounds.
The first responders were bringing the first wounded out of the school building. They frantically sought access to the school's video cameras to track whether the shooter was still inside. They encouraged dispatch to send every resource available including the SWAT team.
What they discovered inside the building was 32 shooting victims. As of this moment, 17 dead and 15 others injured. Police and other officials say he pulled a fire alarm to create initial chaos. He then set off tear gas while protecting himself with a mask. Video captured in the school shared on social media took us all inside the halls where the deafening gunshots rang out one after another. He carried an AR-15 overstocked with ammunition.
Tonight experts wondered if growing up in the post-Columbine era may have given the shooter insight into how schools react to an active shooter situation. He likely escaped the building initially by looking like all the other kids. After all he was a student there until being expelled some time ago.
Two police officers found him and arrested him away from school property. He seemed to concede the end of his slaughter. He offered no resistance.
We talked a lot on our newscasts tonight about better training for schools so students know how to respond. We talked about police departments training to quickly extinguish an active shooter. What we have yet to talk about is finding away to stop young teens and men from wanting to carry out these terrible acts of violence. This happens far too often.
As of tonight there is now a new set of parents who have lost children, a new community bearing the label of victim of a school shooting. It is club too crowded already. It is past time for lasting change.