A terrible tragedy recently occurred. One that has our whole country reeling. And worst of all, one that could have been easily avoided… If only people would have cared enough to try. To do their JOBS.
We have a system that failed every step of the way. A system that failed a mentally unstable adolescent, and in doing so failed everyone around him. A system that may as well not even exist for all the good it did us.
Nobody paid any attention to the increasingly volatile situation until it was far, far too late. After the fact, everyone thinks they are an expert – even though most of them know next to nothing about what actually transpired.
His name was Nikolas Cruz and he was 19 years old. He attended Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida – until he was expelled for his violent behavior. On February 14, 2018 he walked into his former high school with a bag containing a rifle, ammunition, smoke grenades, and a gas mask. No one tried to stopped him, even though he was no longer a student.
He proceeded to set off his smoke grenades so that the fire alarm would be triggered. Then when the students exited their classrooms, he began to fire his rifle. During the attack, he took the lives of 17 people and severely injured 14 more.
But it was not out of the blue. The warning signs were many and substantial. As was the number of times those warning signs were reported to various authorities. As was the number of times those authorities failed to do anything to help. If they had, this tragedy would have been avoided.
Most people have heard about his infamous YouTube comment – where on a page using his real name he said “I’m going to be a professional school shooter.” The comment was reported to the FBI in September of 2017… But they declined to investigate. (They were probably too busy with their witch hunts for Muslim terrorists and Russian collusions.)
But did you know this wasn’t the first time a government agency failed to adequately respond to a report about Nikolas Cruz?
In 2016 he was reported to the Florida Department of Children and Family after he made a Snapchat post of him cutting his arms. When they interviewed him, he confessed that he planned to go out and buy a gun… But they determined that he was stable and did not require hospitalization. Had they made a different call, he would not have passed the background check that allowed him to purchase the rifle used in the attack.
Then in January of 2018, the FBI received yet ANOTHER report about Nikolas Cruz. This time, by a girl who knew him in person. She warned them that “I know he’s going to explode” and she feared him “getting into a school and just shooting up the place.” But that information was never passed on to the Miami field office, so no investigation ever took place. Maybe if it had, he would have received the help he needed. The help the Department of Children and Family decided not to give him.
In addition to those reports to the FBI, 23 were made to the local sheriffs department regarding his violence and threats. I want to repeat that. TWENTY THREE reports were made to the local sheriffs department about Nikolas Cruz. Two of those reports specifically stated he was going to shoot up a school. But once again, nothing came of it. Apparently, no one took it seriously. (Meanwhile, people are having heart palpitations that a kid took bites out of a pop tart to make it resemble a gun.)
But wait, there’s more. Three months before the attack, Nikolas Cruz called 911 on HIMSELF – of course, to no avail.
Even when reaching out for help, no one was there for him.
He reportedly told the 911 operator “The thing is I lost my mother a couple days again, so like, I’m dealing with a bunch of things right now.”
His father had died several years prior, and now with his mother gone too he had very little support system. This young man is deeply troubled and emotionally unstable. He clearly has very severe mental health problems and coping issues that NO ONE was willing to help him with. Despite his horrible crimes, he deserves our pity. The system let him down. The system let all of us down.
And yet, the system still found more ways to let us down before the conclusion of this story.
The school actually had an armed resource officer on site at the time of the shooting. A person who was fully trained and equipped to deal with situations exactly like this one – Sheriff’s Deputy Scot Peterson. This should have been a saving grace… Except for one huge problem… He was too chickenshit to go inside the building. Instead, he waited outside for help to arrive… the help HE was supposed to be.
And when that help finally arrived, 3 additional deputies… they were just as worthless. These four police officers cowered in fear outside of the school, waiting for the shooter to run out of ammunition or for someone with a spine to arrive on scene and do their jobs.
Thankfully, there was one person with a spine willing to do whatever it took to keep the students safe. Aaron Feis, the unarmed securityguard and assistant football coach, who died using his body as a shield to protect the students. This brave man gave his life without hesitation, even though he had no weapons or protective gear.
Imagine how differently that day might have gone if only he would have been legally allowed to carry a gun on school property. Instead of sacrificing his life that day, maybe he could have subdued Nikolas before so many people were shot and killed. But of course, he wasn’t legally allowed to. Because our government thinks it’s safer when innocent people don’t have the means to defend themselves. That’s what the police are – oh, oops. Looks like that was just one more way our useless government let us down. (I’m not necessarily sold on teachers with guns; but what good is a security guard without them?)
So now, 17 innocent people are dead and the nation is in a tailspin. Everyone is looking for who to blame. And in the typical American way, we are blaming all the wrong things. Because most people don’t really care about what happened and how to avoid future tragedies… they are just looking for reasons to ban the things that they dislike.
Sometimes it’s music, sometimes it’s video games, and sometimes it’s inanimate objects. And if you dare to disagree with or question that narrative, you don’t care about children. So your opinion doesn’t matter and should be ignored.
This time, the blame falls squarely on the model of gun that Nikolas used.
Many major news networks are claiming he used a “high powered assault rifle”. That’s a blatant lie. The gun that he used (an AR15) is a very common, semi-automatic hunting rifle. It shoots low caliber bullets (0.223) and is primarily used to hunt small game and for home defense. The average pistol is more powerful.
But that doesn’t make for as interesting of a story. And it doesn’t help to push an anti-gun agenda.
And that’s what this tragedy has been reduced to. A gun control issue. Not a mental health issue. Not the many, many failures of multiple government agencies. Let’s pretend those things don’t even exist. Pay no attention to the man hiding behind the curtain, here’s something shiny to distract you!
And we’re letting it. I’m no exception. Everyone is so busy fighting about gun control (on both sides), that the government failures have safely limped away. But the system is still broken and there are thousands more Nikolas Cruz’s out there in need of help. Will we help them or sweep them under the rug until the next tragedy?