Multiple people, including Broward County Sheriff’s Deputy Scot Peterson, recommended Nikolas Cruz be involuntarily committed over a year before the mass shooting in Parkland, Florida occurred.
On the day of the shooting, Peterson was stationed outside as Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School’s resource officer. His decision to not enter the building during the massacre resulted in broad criticism and the officer ultimately retiring after being suspended by Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel.
However, in September 2016 — over a year before Cruz allegedly opened-fire at the school — Peterson was among three people who advocated for him to be involuntarily committed.
The Associated Press (AP) reported after a series of disturbing events, including Cruz telling another student he wanted to get a gun to use, writing “kill” in his notebook, and cutting himself, Peterson and two school counselors made the recommendation.
Under Florida’s Baker Act, the mental health examination would have permitted him to be held for at least three days and the commitment would have made it difficult, if not impossible, for Cruz to purchase a gun.
According to AP, the documents do not show why the recommendation was not acted on, but former federal prosecutor David S. Weinstein said it could have made a huge difference.
When Cruz went to purchase the firearm, Weinstein explained that even if he lied about his mental health history, “hopefully the verification of the form would have pulled up the commitment paperwork.”
Before the shooting, multiple calls had been made to the FBI and to the Broward County Sheriff’s Office regarding Cruz, including one he made himself.
Only a month ahead of the massacre, a woman contacted the FBI and said she knew Cruz was going to “explode” and may even “get into a school and just shoot the place up.”