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Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Shooting

The school shooting last Wednesday in Parkland, Florida was the twenty-fifth fatal, active school shooting since the incident at Columbine High School in 1999.   Along with the rest of the nation, we pray for the victims, families and the Parkland community at this terrible time.

The authorities are still releasing information concerning the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on February 14th - so a complete and accurate version of the shooting is not yet in place.  However, based on the information we have at this time, it seems that the actions of the suspect, Nikolas Cruz, 19 years of age, depict a different approach taken by an active shooter who had firsthand knowledge and operational details about his target.   Wright Specialty insureds need to review this new pattern to determine if an attack like this is addressed in the emergency management plan.

  1. As a former student, Cruz was familiar with the building's emergency response plans, including sheltering and evacuation protocol.  The fact that he fired from hallways through classroom walls and windows supports this idea.
  2. Cruz was expelled and barred from the school last year.  He may have been recognized by staff members unaware of the restrictions, unwittingly allowing him access to the campus and building.  Reports indicate that he was wearing a Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shirt when he arrived at the school.   
  3. Pulling the fire alarm forced an evacuation from classrooms and the building, placing more students in hallways, tragically increasing the number of targets.
  4. Cruz entered the building after 2:00 pm, close to the end of the last school period.  Anticipating dismissal, security may have been relaxed at that point in the day. 

Wright Specialty insureds are encouraged to incorporate this threat scenario into their existing plans. It is critical that every security employee or contractor has an accurate list of students and others who not allowed on the campus.

Cruz's Actions in Light of the Information in the FBI's The School Shooter: A Quick Reference Guide.

The report - The School Shooter: A Quick Reference Guide (Guide)  [1] contains information compiled from different reports and studies published by the US Secret Service, US Department of Education and other sources.   It lists many characteristics of school shooters and school shootings; questions for threat assessments; possible motives; and relevant statistics and warning signs.  While Cruz's behavior (at this point) does not completely match the information contained in the Guide, there are many similarities that make the information in this report worth studying:

  • His actions were planned and did not appear to be spontaneous.
  • Cruz did not direct threats to his targets before the attack.
  • This shooting appears to have elements of retaliation - Cruz was expelled the year before.
  • Like other offenders, he experienced a significant personal loss - in this case, Cruz lost his adoptive mother in November, 2017.
  • According to reports, his digital footprint was threatening and violent.
  • The attack occurred during the school day.
  • Cruz had a known history of weapons use.
  • He acquired his weapon from his own home

[1] This document can be found at: https://www.hsdl.org/?abstract&did=727626