South Florida school shooting prompts questions everywhere

By Vic Micolucci - I-TEAM reporter, anchor
WPLG-TV image

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The school shooting in South Florida has parents all across the country questioning their children’s safety.

The shooting comes on the 10 year anniversary of the shooting rampage at Northern Illinois University, where five people were killed and more than a dozen were injured.

News4Jax crime and safety analyst Gil Smith, who was with the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office for more than 25 years, worked as a school resource officer for six years. He said students, teachers and administrators at all school districts are likely going through a lot of emotions right now.

“You just constantly question yourself. What else could I have done? What could I have possibly done to prevent this?” Smith said. “This is gonna stay with the police officers, the family members for several years to come, possibly for the rest of their lives.”

Smith said school leaders and law enforcement try their best to protect everyone on campus, but there are always dangers of active shooters.

“You can’t make any place 100 percent secure,” Smith said. “It’s just not possible. But they do everything they can to look at training, to look at previous situations. What they can do to change the situations in their school. And it will be done here also. Law enforcement and schools all across the country will take in this information.”

Broward County Sheriff’s investigators confirmed the accused shooter, a former student, was in custody. News helicopter video showed him in handcuffs, being put into a police car.

Smith said the shooter had an advantage by knowing the layout of the school.

“With this gunman being a former student, this is someone who knows the school very well, knows the area and knows where maybe some of the weak points were and may have known how to get through some of those points.”

Smith noted it’s an important time for parents to go over what to do in an active shooter situation with their children. According to the FBI and Homeland Security, those involved should practice the “Run, Hide, Fight” method.

Run – if you can get away from the danger, run to safety.
Hide – if you cannot get away, find a safe place to hide until the danger is gone.
Fight – if other options are unavailable, fight like your life depends on it.

Laureen Ricks, the media relations supervisor for Duval County Public Schools, said officials are “monitoring this tragic situation.” She said if there was any need for additional security, leaders would “certainly put it in place if they were aware of a threat to a campus.”

Nicole Snyder, spokeswoman for Clay County Public Schools, said she was looking into the situation and would be asking the superintendent for comment. 

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