Amid security fears, Stoneman Douglas students will carry clear backpacks

When students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School return from spring break, they will be required to carry clear backpacks, Broward County school officials said.

The move is one of a number of changes announced Wednesday by Broward County Public Schools Superintendent Robert Runice after the Parkland school experienced a number security issues in recent days — more than month after a mass shooting left 17 people dead.

A number of incidents this week at Stoneman Douglas have students and faculty on edge:

  • Two students were arrested this week, accused of bringing knives to the school.
  • Another student was ordered to undergo a mental health evaluation after posting threatening messages on Snapchat.
  • Zachary Cruz, the brother of gunman Nikolas Cruz, was arrested of trespassing on the school grounds Monday after being repeatedly warned to stay off the campus.
  • A sheriff’s deputy was suspended after he was accused of sleeping in his patrol car while on duty at the school on Monday.

More than 700 students stayed home from school on Wednesday after the incidents. Both Runice and Gov. Rick Scott have said they are working to improve security at the school. 

Scott assigned eight Florida Highway Patrol troopers to provide additional security for the school.

“Parents, students and teachers have recently endured one of the worst tragedies in Florida history,” Scott said. “They must be assured that every necessary step is being taken to increase safety and ensure no unauthorized people are allowed on campus.”

In additional to the backpacks, Runice said students and faculty  will be issued identification badges that must be worn at all time while on campus. Runice said the school district is also considering consolidating entry points to the school and using metal detecting wands. 

“While we cannot change the heartbreaking and senseless act of violence at Marjory Stoneman Douglas by working together, we can change the future,” Runcie said.

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‘She brought a knife to protect herself,’ father of Stoneman Douglas student says

An 18-year-old student from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland appeared before a judge Wednesday.

Jordan Salter faces two charges for allegedly bringing a weapon to school and pulling it on another student. She was released late Wednesday.

“Your honor, she poured coffee on a guy who made an extremely rude comment to her and probably had it coming,” Salter’s public defender said. 

According to an arrest report, that student approached Salter and that’s when she pulled out a 2-inch knife. 

“She shouldn’t have had a knife. I agree. But where were the people that should have been protecting her again?” the student’s father, Scott Salter, said. 

The judge eventually ordered that Jordan Selter be held in lieu of a $12,500 bond — more than her parents say they can afford.

“She brought a knife to protect herself. Parkland’s not protected, nobody’s protected,” Scott Salter said.

The arrests came a day after the brother of school gunman Nikolas Cruz, 19, was arrested for trespassing at the school.  

According to an arrest report from 2016, Zachary Cruz, 18, was previously arrested for skateboarding on a police car.

Police said the younger Cruz was observed skateboarding on top of a marked police unit. He was reportedly continually disrespectful to police on scene and told his mother he skateboarded on top of the patrol car because he didn’t have anything else to do.

In response to Selter’s arrest, the arrest of another student accused of bringing a knife to school and the hospitalization of a third student accused of making online threats, Gov. Rick Scott sent a letter to Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel, calling for an armed law enforcement officer at every entry point of Stoneman Douglas. 

On Wednesday, Scott said the Florida Highway Patrol will deploy eight troopers to Stoneman Douglas to assist deputies.

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BSO deputy involved in crash with carjacking vehicle in Davie, authorities say

A Broward Sheriff’s Office deputy was following a vehicle involved in a carjacking Wednesday morning when the deputy and the suspects were involved in a crash.

According to BSO spokeswoman Joy Oglesby, the crash happened at Davie Road and Stirling Road.

She said the suspects got out of the car and fled the crash scene, but were arrested a short time later.

The deputy suffered minor abrasions, but was OK and was not taken to a hospital, Oglesby said.

No other details were immediately released.

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Deputy suspended accused of sleeping on duty at Stoneman Douglas

A Broward County sheriff’s deputy has been suspended after he was caught sleeping in a patrol car outside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, authorities said.

Veda Coleman-Wright, a spokeswoman for the Broward County Sheriff’s Office, said Deputy Moises Carotti was suspended with pay, pending an internal affairs investigation.

Coleman-Wright said just after 5 p.m. Monday a student told another deputy on the campus that Carotti was asleep in his marked patrol car near the 1200 building, the site of the mass shooting that left 17 people dead last month.

The deputy woke Carotti and informed his superiors, Coleman-Wright said. Another deputy was sent to replace Carotti, she said.

On Tuesday, Gov. Rick Scott called for armed law enforcement officers at every entrance to the high school while students are on campus.

“Recent events at the school have demonstrated the need for additional security measures to be implemented,” Scott said.

Sen. Marco Rubio called the incident “outrageous” and “almost impossible to believe.”

“Of all the schools in America, you would think this would be the safest one right now,” Rubio said.

Roughly 30 minutes before Moises was found asleep, other deputies arrested Zachary Cruz, the brother of gunman Nikolas Cruz, for trespassing. Although Zachary Cruz had been told several times to avoid the campus, he rode his skateboard onto the grounds to “reflect on the school shooting and soak it in,” deputies said.

A day later, two students were arrested for bringing knives to Stoneman Douglas, heightening concerns about security.

“Security at Marjory Stoneman Douglas continues to be an urgent priority for us,” Broward County Public Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie said. “Given the developments over the past 24 hours, we will further enhance school safety measures. Communications on details will be forthcoming tomorrow.”

Carotti’s suspension is the latest misstep for the Broward County Sheriff’s Office on the Parkland shooting case.

School Resource Officer Scot Peterson resigned after Israel said Peterson failed to engage Cruz during the shooting. Peterson, through his lawyer, said he was unsure where the gunfire was coming from, and that he was “no coward.”

Others have questioned whether Broward County Sheriff’s deputies could have entered the school sooner. Records released by the sheriff’s office said law enforcement officers entered the school 11 minutes after the shooting began.

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Woman faces charges after crashing into BSO substation while on fire

A woman who is accused of setting herself on fire and crashing a car with a flammable substance into the Broward Sheriff’s Office substation in Pembroke Park is facing criminal charges. 

BSO deputies said Lassandra Johnson, 34, of West Park, crashed her Toyota Camry into the building about 11:30 a.m. Monday.

“Following impact, a fire erupted from the car,” BSO spokeswoman Joy Oglesby said in a statement. “A worker who was painting inside the office helped Johnson out of the car.” 

Ben Mendez said he heard the loud crash, rushed to help and saw Johnson on fire. 

Broward Sheriff Fire Rescue Battalion Chief Michael Kane said Johnson suffered third-degree burns all over her body. She was taken to Memorial Regional Hospital in Hollywood, where she remains Tuesday.

“She was on fire already, so I’m assuming she lit herself on fire,” Mendez said. 

Mendez pulled the woman out of the car and put out the flames as fast as he could. He said he tried talking to her, but she was “babbling” about her romantic life.

The woman was slowly walking naked when firefighters arrived and covered her. She didn’t struggle. 

“A BSO employee who hurt herself while evacuating was taken to Memorial Regional Hospital South as a precaution,” Oglesby said. 

Johnson faces charges of arson and burglary. Oglesby did not explain the reason for the burglary charge, but said the investigation by BSO’s violent crimes unit continues.

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Parkland gunman’s brother to appear in court after trespassing at Stoneman Douglas

The brother of Parkland gunman Nikolas Cruz is scheduled to appear in court Tuesday, a day after he was arrested for allegedly trespassing on the campus of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.

Zachary Cruz, 18, has already posted a $25 bond, but he will still not be released until after his court appearance for unknown reasons.

According to the arrest report, Zachary Cruz told deputies that he went to the campus to “reflect on the school shooting and soak it in.”

Deputies said security cameras showed him riding his skateboard onto the school grounds, bypassing the campus’ locked doors and gates about 4:30 p.m.

Lori Alhadeff, whose daughter, Alyssa, was one of 17 people killed in the Feb. 14 shooting, is furious. Alhadeff said the fact that he even got on school property is cause for concern. 

“How is he able just to skateboard onto campus?” she said.

Broward County Public Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie called Zachary Cruz’s actions odd, and said, “I understand it does creep people out.”

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