Bethany Montgomery, Managing Editor
On Feb. 14, students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. were interrupted from their school day, when gunman Nikolas Cruz enter the premises and opened fire. During the chaos, Cruz set off the school’s fire alarm to lure students from their classrooms. Using an AR-15 assault rifle, Cruz fired several rounds into the crowd of students and teachers, then hid among the panicked mob as they rushed from the school. Police captured Cruz an hour later in Coral Springs, a residential area a mile from the scene. After being taken to a local hospital, he was released into custody. Public defender Howard Finkelstein is representing the confessed gunman and has stated that Cruz is willing to plead guilty in order to avoid the death penalty.
Once a former student, Cruz was expelled from Marjory Stoneman Douglas after repeatedly getting in fights with other students. The FBI had received two tips prior to the shooting, warning them of Cruz’s gun ownership, erratic behavior, and disturbing social media posts, alluding to his desire to kill. One tip on Jan. 5 came from an anonymous tip line, while the other was sent in by a Youtube user, but the FBI did not act on these reports. FBI director Christopher Ray stated that the FBI is still investigating this issue since the incident took place.
In Everett, Wash., police discovered a journal entry by a student, Joshua O’Connor, from ACES Alternative high school that described his plans for a mass shooting, or bombing, in which he planned on taking as many lives as possible and use this opportunity “to make it count.” The journal and gun were discovered by O’Connor’s grandmother who became increasingly concerned and turned him in. After gaining a search warrant for his house, the detectives seized his journal and several weapons. O’Connor’s defense attorney said her client’s “venting” is not enough for him to face attempted murder charges. Everett Chief of Police, Dan Templeman, described the arrest as a life-saving event and urged parents and students to be vigilant in watching for these potential dangers. “It is critically important for community members, to include students and parents, to remain observant and immediately report odd or suspicious behaviors with our children or with fellow students. We were fortunate that a family member believed there were credible threats and contacted law enforcement for further investigation. I’m sure the decision was difficult to make, but fortunately, it was the correct one.”
Fortunately, another potential mass shooting was avoided. If you yourself find reason to believe that a disaster like this may occur, do not hesitate to contact the Office of Public Safety or the Lacey Police Department–if you see something, say something.