What went wrong? Commission highlights safety issues, delayed response during Parkland shooting

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — School leaders are taking the blame for things that might have prevented students being shot at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School last year.

On Wednesday, the commission that’s been investigating what went wrong that day presented their findings to Gov. Rick Scott, the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives.

The 450-page final report argues law enforcement and the school district failed students and teachers in the line of fire.


Here is a timeline of what happened, according to the FDLE report:

  • Former student Nicholas Cruz starts firing inside Building 12. The very first shots set off the fire alarm.
  • During the attack, Cruz never entered a single classroom. Security footage shows Cruz shooting students in the hallway of the first floor, as well as through the windows of classroom doors.
  • As the fire alarm sounded, more than 100 students walked down the stairwell, thinking it was a fire drill. When they heard gunshots, they scrambled back to their classrooms. Some doors had locked behind them.
  • Cruz moved up to the second floor, where students and teachers who heard the initial shots hid in their classrooms and covered the windows in their doors. Cruz tried to look into each room without seeing anyone before moving on to the third floor.
  • On the third floor, Cruz shoots into a crowd of locked-out students, hitting approximately seven of them. Some students escaped down the stairs, but others tried to take cover in bathrooms that were locked because the school said students had been vaping in them. Because they couldn't hide, the report says three students were shot outside the bathroom doors.
  • Cruz's final shots were at a window in the teachers' lounge as he tried to take a sniper approach to hit students fleeing below. The windows of the teachers' lounge were hurricane-proof and did not break.
  • By the time someone called a Code Red, 34 students and teachers had been shot. 17 were dead.

The report makes clear the Cruz never shot anyone who wasn't right in front of him. The second floor of the building was packed with students, but because no one was in the hallway and Cruz couldn't see into the classrooms, Cruz didn't shoot anyone, the report claims.

“They’re simply going to go where the people are,” said Zach Hudson, an expert on active shooter situations. “If [a shooter] can’t gain access, they have a tendency to want to bypass that location.”


The report said that one month before the Feb. 14 shooting, teachers were trained on responding to an active shooter situation: Lock the doors, turn off lights, cover door windows, and move students to a “hard corner” of the classroom.

The report said only two of the 30 classrooms in the building used defined “hard corners,” and even in the rooms that did, unmovable objects like furniture blocked the area.

“Hard corners” are safety areas that keep people out of view of an active shooter.

In addition to that, the report also highlights a delay in calling for help. No one reported a “Code Red” until nearly five minutes after the shooting started, in part because some didn’t know who could call a Code Red.

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