Friday, 23 February 2018

Some articles and some thoughts of mine related to Florida, USA school shooting and related matters

Note that readers who prefer not to read about such tragic and disturbing matters like school shootings may please skip reading the rest of this post.

Stoneman Douglas cop resigns; sheriff says he should have 'killed the killer', http://www.sun-sentinel.com/local/broward/parkland/florida-school-shooting/fl-florida-shooting-sro-20180222-story.html, 23-Feb-2018

This seems so surreal for me for a country that is not facing an assault from an enemy.

But the reality is that a 19 year old student turned into a human killing machine because of the AR-15 that he could legally buy. OK the gun debate has been going on endlessly in the USA - we all know that.

But the gun guys had suggested that armed persons in the school may have solved the problem. I saw the entire video of that 'listening' session in the White House. I was willing to keep an open mind on this as I really don't know how such things work in a gun-enabled society.

Now it emerges that there was an armed police officer on duty at the school who seems, I repeat, seems to have chosen to ***NOT*** go inside the school where the killing of school students and staff was going on and confront the killer.

The sheriff has given his view clearly by stating that he should have engaged the killer, and the sheriff also took action to suspend him without pay, which led the deputy to resign from the force.

We don't seem to have the deputy's view of this so far. The above article has a teacher of the school say that the criticism of the deputy (Scot Peterson) was unfair. Her words seem to imply that he did not have a chance against the killer given that he was running amok in the school!

Now I have never ever held a real gun (as against toy guns) in my life - that shows how largely gun-free and violence-free my life has been over these five and a half decades so far. I am very grateful that I could lead such a life as that allowed me to explore certain facets of life including spirituality for which peace and security are essential.

My zero exposure to guns may have led my analysis below to be very wrong. I would not have even attempted such an analysis if such mass school and college shootings were extremely rare in the USA (many of my real-life friends and few relatives live in the USA, and now I have many Facebook and email correspondent friends in the USA too - so this impacts me through the impact it has on them).

The over three decade experienced deputy may have felt that with the gun that he had on him at that time, which I presume was no match to an AR-15, he was at a great disadvantage in a direct confrontation with the 19 year old school student (expelled student) who was firing away from an AR-15!!! Maybe that's why he did not get into that confrontation. And maybe that's what the USA police rules are in general when it comes to dealing with armed criminals and murderers. Wait for backup and then engage from a position of strength, I guess.

Is it fair to expect such a deputy to become a "hero" by jumping into the school building and engaging the AR-15 equipped killer in a gunfight? I think that's what some USA political leaders seem to want and expect. But I am not so sure - I could have misunderstood them.

I am freaked out by the fact that some persons I correspond with have to deal with the ***remote**** possibility of this happening in the educational institutions they are associated with as a professor/teacher. I mean, these are real-life issues for teachers and parents and school students in the USA. It is not just some theoretical debate.

Of course, in India there are many other risks to life including some crazy traffic accidents as well as diseases like dengue. So India has its share of big risks and I do face some of those risks in my life. So each place, USA or India, has its advantages and disadvantages.
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An earlier NYT article where the sheriff was defending his deputies: In School Shooting’s Painful Aftermath, Sheriff Faces Questions Over Police Response, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/21/us/police-security-florida-shooting.html, 21-Feb-2018.

In the article Sheriff Scott Israel talked about active shooter protocols requiring confrontation with the active shooter(s) and said "That’s exactly what we’re examining" .. "You don’t wait for SWAT, you get in, and you push toward the shooter."

The sheriff also said, "The response and actions of Deputy Peterson will be looked at and scrutinized, as will everyone’s". He added that police deputies in schools (in his county in Florida, USA) will be carrying rifles (like the AR-15, I presume).

Ravi: Hmm. So police procedures in such scenarios expect the armed policeman (even if armed with a less powerful gun than the shooter) to confront the active shooter!

So the interim solution seems to be: Arm police deputies who protect schools (and colleges/universities) with rifles (comparable to AR-15 perhaps)! I see the logic in it, given the circumstances. But it still freaks me out.

More recent NYT article: As Gunman Rampaged Through Florida School, Armed Deputy ‘Never Went In’,  https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/22/us/nikolas-cruz-florida-shooting.html, 22nd Feb. 2018.

The article reports that Sheriff Israel suspended the deputy Scot Peterson without pay, after viewing surveillance video, (Sheriff or his team) talking to witnesses etc. Sheriff Israel said, "He never went in" meaning that Peterson did not go in and confront the shooter (but waited outside and communicated with the police about the situation). The deputy chose to retire on being suspended. The Sheriff used strong words against Peterson for not having engaged the active shooter.
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How many more in authority failed Stoneman Douglas High School?, http://www.miamiherald.com/opinion/editorials/article201706694.html, 22-Feb-2018

A small extract from above article:

Ever since the Columbine, armed first responders have been told to track down the active shooter and kill him. No waiting for backup. A 30-year veteran, Peterson obviously couldn’t do it. He stepped down on Thursday after he was suspended without pay by Israel pending an internal investigation into his actions.

And what a difference Peterson’s presence could have made. How many lives would have been spared if Peterson had at least distracted Cruz from his six-minute mission to kill. Petersen obviously feared for his own life. That’s understandable. And it’s likely he was outgunned, fueling the sheriff’s announcement Wednesday that school officers would carry rifles from now on.
---- end extract ----

Small extract from http://www.foxnews.com/us/2018/02/23/police-officers-guard-home-deputy-assigned-to-florida-hs-who-never-went-in-during-shooting-report.html

Several Palm Beach County, Fla., police officers are guarding the home of the former school resource deputy who stayed outside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School as last week's massacre unfolded, Fox's WSVN-TV reported.

Deputy Scot Peterson, of the Broward County Sheriff’s Office, was armed and stationed on the school’s campus when a suspect identified by authorities as Nikolas Cruz opened fire with an AR-15 rifle, leaving 17 people dead and others wounded.

Peterson resigned Thursday after video surveillance showed he never entered the school, even though he "clearly" knew there was a shooting taking place, officials said. The revelation prompted widespread outrage.
--- end extract ---

Ravi: I think what this shows is that USA school resource officers are also human and not super-heroes as some leaders would like to portray them. I mean, the officer seems to have known that he was outgunned and feared being mowed down by this killer with the AR-15 killing machine. Expecting the officer to have jumped into such a situation at great risk to his own life, I think would be expecting too much.

I read about a few school shootings after this Florida school shooting being averted!
Two such reports: http://www.bridgemi.com/quality-life/did-michigan-campus-narrowly-avert-massacre-florida-shooting and https://www.burlingtonfreepress.com/story/news/local/vermont/2018/02/17/fair-haven-students-vermont-states-attorney-say-speaking-up-averted-school-shooting/347111002/.

I heard in some news account that threats to schools across the USA went up from 10 a week to 50 a week, after this Florida school tragedy!

Some are arguing for an assault weapons ban.

I do think that the gun culture is very, very deeply embedded in the psyche of many Americans and so an assault weapons ban is something they will push very hard against.

Which means that the way to keep USA schools and colleges safe is to have assault weapon equipped security people assigned to protect them.

What a complex and painful situation!
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Florida School Shooter Heard Voices In His Head, They Were "Demons" Say Police, https://www.ndtv.com/world-news/nikolas-cruz-floridas-school-shooter-heard-voices-in-his-head-say-us-police-1813792, 17-Feb-2018

And why did the 19 year old Florida school shooter-killer kill? Because he heard voices (demons, he says) in his head that asked him to kill! As terrifyingly simple as that!

How does any sophisticated system check that potential buyers aged 18/21 and above do not hear such (demonic) voices in their head and that they will not hear such voices in future???
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What I Saw Treating the Victims From Parkland Should Change the Debate on Guns, https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2018/02/what-i-saw-treating-the-victims-from-parkland-should-change-the-debate-on-guns/553937/, 22-Feb-2018

This has been a very educative and very sad article for me. I had not realized that the AR-15 bullets can cause so much more damage than a handgun's bullets. I think this article makes a strong case of AR-14 being a "weapon of modern-day war" like the AK-47 and not a hunting rifle or a defensive weapon.

'Organs look like overripe melons smashed by a sledgehammer': Florida radiologist reveals devastating effects AR-15 bullets had on Parkland school shooting victims and calls for ban on assault-style rifles, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5424197/Radiologist-reveals-effects-AR-15-bullets-human-body.html, 23-Feb-2018

WHAT AN AR-15 CAN DO TO THE HUMAN BODY, https://www.wired.com/2016/06/ar-15-can-human-body/, 17th June 2016

Paul Krugman article: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/22/opinion/guns-nasty-brutish-trump.html, 22-Feb-2018

Krugman writes: "Meanwhile, anyone who imagines that amateurs packing heat can be counted on to save everyone from a crazed killer with a semiautomatic weapon — as opposed to shooting one another or third parties in the confusion — has seen too many bad action movies."

[I thank sun-sentinal.com, nytimes.com, miami-herald.com, foxnews.com and theatlantic.com and have presumed that they will not have any objections to me sharing the above short extracts from their website on this post which is freely viewable by all, and does not have any financial profit motive whatsoever.]

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