November 17, 2018

Newly Released Video Shows Broward County Sheriff Deputy Doing Nothing As Shooting Occurred

Screenshot from YouTube.

A video released from the Broward County Sheriff’s office shows then-Deputy Scot Peterson standing around and doing nothing as the shooting at Majorie Douglas High School was ongoing.

The 27-minute long video, taken from a camera on campus, shows Peterson running to a position outside the building where the shooting occurred, and just stayed there while brandishing his gun.

Audio is not included in the video, but the Broward County Sheriff’s office released recordings of radio dispatches last week revealing that Peterson clearly stating that the gunshots were occurring inside and that officers should not go inside.

The sheriff’s office issued a statement that read, “The video speaks for itself. His actions were enough to warrant an internal affairs investigation, as requested by Sheriff Scott Israel on Feb. 21. After being suspended without pay, Peterson chose to resign and immediately retired rather than face possible termination.”

Peterson’s attorney did not answer a request for comment from The Washington Post.

Judicial Watch obtained documents detailing the Broward County Sheriff Office’s training procedures, and they state that in the event of a mass shooting, “the first officer or two officers on scene will immediately go to confront the shooter.”

Should four officers be present, they need to form a “diamond formation” and confront the shooter.

“With the quad, the first four officers to respond entered the building with coverage in all directions,” the documents state. “This was critical to address the concerns of officers who previously would not enter and just wait for SWAT.”

The procedures also emphasized that “time was critical” and that the shooter should be confronted as soon as possible.

Including Peterson, there were indeed four officers present at the shooting, and Peterson told them not to enter the building.

Six Degrees of Jewish Separation

On Feb. 14, former Los Angeles resident Shelley Faden-Focht, now living in Philadelphia, was back in L.A. to say farewell to her cancer-stricken friend Esther Elfenbaum, the former early childhood education specialist with the Bureau of Jewish Education.

Longtime friends Faden-Focht, Elfenbaum and Elaine Fidel were reminiscing about their lives when Fidel glanced at a bulletin on the television. “My God, there’s been a shooting in Parkland, Fla.,” she said. “Oh, my God,” Faden-Focht replied. “My great-niece, Joelle [Landau], lives there! She just started high school.”

When she learned that the site of the attack was Marjory Stoneman Douglas High, the same school her great-niece attended, “my heart sank,” Faden-Focht told the Journal.

She immediately telephoned Joelle’s mother and was assured the 14-year-old was safe.

“My first thought was, ‘Thank you, God, for letting Joelle be safe because she has so much to offer the world,’ ” Faden-Focht said. “This has been quite a year for her. First, her parents separated, and now this.”

Later, Joelle described the chaotic scene of the 90-minute ordeal to her great-aunt.  Shortly after hearing the first gunshots, her classmates filed into the rear section of a double room and locked the door.  Nearly everyone was crying, including the teacher. When a friend encouraged Joelle to stop crying, she explained that she wasn’t. She was praying, saying the Shema.

A week later, Faden-Focht was still in Los Angeles, and on Feb. 22, Elfenbaum died.  That day, Fidel, whose psychotherapy office is across the street from the Pico Glatt Mart, picked up her weekly copy of the Jewish Journal outside the store, and she handed one to Faden-Focht.

Joelle Landau

The edition had printed numerous community responses to the Parkland tragedy, but what really struck Faden-Focht was the dramatic illustration on the cover showing a map of the United States with guns and dripping blood.

“I decided I wanted to send copies to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School [after reading coverage of the tragedy in the Journal].” — Shelley Faden-Focht

After reading the coverage of the tragedy in the Journal, Faden-Focht said, “I decided I wanted to send copies to [Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School], to the teachers, to the students, to the survivors and their families. Parkland people should see these articles that are so eclectic.”

The viewpoints represent “an amazing array” of reactions to the shooting, she said. “Stories from young people, old people, even the security fellow from Israel,” Faden-Focht said.

A few days later, the Journal arranged to ship 400 copies of the issue to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High.


The Parkland Shooting: A Nightmare Come True

How did 400 copies of Jewish Journal's "When Will It End" issue end up in Parkland, FL?


Posted by Jewish Journal on Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Report: School Resource Officer Ordered Police Not to Enter Building Where Shooting Occurred Despite Hearing Shots Inside

Well-wishers place mementos the day students and parents arrive for voluntary campus orientation at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, for the coming Wednesday's reopening, following last week's mass shooting in Parkland, Florida, U.S., February 25, 2018. REUTERS/Angel Valentin

Audio and video released by the Broward County Sheriff’s office reveals that the school resource officer on Majory Stoneman Douglas’ campus did in fact hear gunshots inside the school, yet told officers not to enter the building.

The Miami Herald reports that then-Deputy Scot Peterson can be clearly hear saying on radio dispatches, “I think we have shots fired, possible shorts fired —1200 building.”

Peterson proceeded to remain “at the southeast corner of Building 12” and ordered officers to lock down the school. Peterson can be heard telling an officer who thought he heard gunfire outside that the shots were going off inside Building 12, yet Peterson nor any other police officer from the Broward County Sheriff’s Department entered the building during.

In fact, Peterson said over the radio as 911 calls were going out that “no one comes inside the school.”

When the shooting stopped, Peterson told officers on the radio dispatch to “stay at least 500 feet away at this point.” The first officers to enter the school were officers from the neighboring Coral Springs city, 11 minutes from when the first gunshot was fired.

Peterson had previously issued a statement defending himself by saying that he thought that the gunshots had originated from outside:

Peterson resigned when reports first came out that he didn’t enter the building during the shooting. Sheriff Scott Israel said at the time that he was “devastated” and “sick to my stomach” that Peterson never went in. However, Israel has absolved himself from any blame for Peterson not going in. Department policy states that officers need “to engage an active shooter and eliminate the threat,” per the Miami Herald.

In total, the Broward County Sheriff’s Office received 45 calls about the shooter or his brother from 2008 to 2017, yet did nothing to prevent the shooting from happening.

After Parkland, a Message to My Summer Campers

To my dear campers at URJ Camp Coleman (Cleveland, Ga.):

After 17 people were murdered at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, including one of your fellow campers (Alyssa Alhadeff), I haven’t been able to think of what to say except for “I am so sorry.”

I am. I am so, so sorry.

I’m sorry that you lost a friend, and that two of you lost a sister.

I’m sorry that some of you were in the school when it happened, and that one of you had to watch.

I’m sorry that you do not feel safe.

I’m sorry for all of the horrible things that you are feeling.

I’m sorry that I can’t get in my car right now and go on a road trip to Charleston, and Atlanta, and Athens, and Tampa, and Miami, and Parkland, so that I can hug each one of you and tell you that it will be OK.

I also thought to myself: I’m sorry that we failed you.

I’m sorry that at camp, for one or two months of the summer, we were unable to prepare you.

I wrote programs for you about self-care, but I talked to you about eating healthy and managing stress, not about remembering to eat when you’re overwhelmed by grief or managing earth-shattering trauma.

From the bottom of my heart, I prayed that your biggest fears could vanish as quickly and easily as paper burns in a campfire, providing kindling for s’mores.

I’m sorry that I didn’t talk to you about writing letters to your senators, or talk to you more about tikkun olam, repairing the world.

But you are seventh graders. You spent the summer worrying about who would be color war captain, or who your buddy would be at the water park.

During your free time, you traded gum and worked on your friendship bracelets, not organizing a march on Washington, D.C., or writing poetry in memory of one of your bunkmates.

I wrote programs for seventh graders: I wanted to educate you on body image, and Jewish identity as you prepared for your bar and bat mitzvahs.

I wanted you to learn how to meditate and see the natural world around you anew.

I led all of you to a campfire in the woods so that you could write down your greatest insecurities on paper and then burn them to make them disappear.

From the bottom of my heart, I prayed that your biggest fears could vanish as quickly and easily as paper burns in a campfire, providing kindling for s’mores.

I’m sorry, instead, for sending you back into this world.

At camp, you are safe.

You go to bed each night in a cabin surrounded by your closest friends.

You know that your counselors are sitting on the porch, helping you feel protected and loved and secure as you fall asleep.

You get to try out new things in a supportive environment, whether it’s auditioning for the musical or playing roller hockey or hiking to a waterfall.

I was starkly reminded Feb. 14 that camp really is a bubble, an out-of-time reality that only exists for two months every summer.

When we send you home, we don’t know what’s waiting for you when you get back, and it’s so hard to let you go.

I could not have imagined this past August, though, that this is what we were returning you to.

Your country has failed you.

Adults have failed you.

We have failed you.

We didn’t make this world safe enough for you.

My hope for you is that your schools will feel as safe as your camp cabins.

I want you to be able to run, laugh, play, learn, and grow as freely as you could at camp, where your biggest fear is falling and skinning your knee.

I want you to not have to question whether the next time you talk to your friends will be the last time you’re able to.

I want you to be active and engaged citizens, like we teach you to be at camp, but I want you to do this out of a desire for good, not out of trauma and necessity.

Most importantly, I want you to just be kids.

I want you not to have to worry. I want you to have a childhood that lasts as long as possible, free from fear, free from pain, and free to always be as happy as you are at 201 Camp Coleman Drive.

And I promise, that, for the rest of my life, I will fight for your safety.

I will fight for your freedom from fear. I will fight in memory of Alyssa Alhadeff, and in honor of all of you, her peers who are so precious, loving, and good.

I will make this world better for you.

Visit for more information about preventing gun violence. 

Madeline Budman is a senior at Georgetown University, majoring in English and double minoring in Women’s and Gender Studies and Jewish Civilization. Last summer, she was the programmer for the Tsofim unit at Camp Coleman where she designed a curriculum for 150 campers entering seventh grade about self-care and Jewish identity.

Poem for Parkland: I Can’t Feel My Head

Valentine’s Day at MSD
I go through my classes as my daily routine
The fire alarm is pulled twice today
An announcement is made to evacuate

I approach the bottom of the stairs
I see kids running as confusion tears
I make a U turn and head to the room
When gun shots erupt our school faces doom

Still without knowing if it’s just a drill
Hiding in the closet as our nerves fill
I receive a text from my mom “are you okay?”
That’s the moment I knew this isn’t a normal birthday

Yes, indeed I turned fifteen this day
Goodbye is something to my classmates I never got to say
I lost too many friends thanks to Nikolas Cruz
Until gun policy changes how many more do I have to lose?

I sat in a closet scared and confused
As our second amendment rights were being abused
No one needs an AR-15
Unless it is to kill and injure over seventeen

Seventeen is far too many
As I turn on the news with my palms all sweaty
I see my friend is missing, Jaime Guttenberg
I frantically start typing a text to her.
I have some hope sending “ARE YOU OKAY???”
Less than one miute later my hope faded away
She has been confirmed dead
Emotions fill up as I can’t feel my head

Thanks to lack of help for a clear mental illness and an AR-15
When I go back to class Jaime will not be seen
I saw her the morning of the shooting
Not knowing this friend I would be losing

In order to cope I got a new puppy
A maltipoo less than two pounds and fluffy
We gave her a name as a tribute to MSD
She cheers everyone up welcome to the family, Misty

Samantha Deitsch is a student at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. This poem was shared on social media and has gone viral on Twitter.

The Parkland Dilemma

A memorial seen outside of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School as students arrive for the first time since the mass shooting in Parkland, Florida, U.S., February 28, 2018. REUTERS/Mary Beth Koeth

I bought my first gun when I was 28 years old. I grew up in a home without guns; I never even fired a gun until I was in law school. Like a lot of people raised in Los Angeles, I had a knee-jerk aversion to firearms. Although in principle I supported the founding argument for the Second Amendment — I believe that an armed population acts as a final check on the possibility of a tyrannical government — I never felt the necessity to get a gun for home defense.

All that changed in 2013 — ironically, after a debate about gun control. That January, I appeared on CNN with Piers Morgan, who had spent the previous few weeks decrying the prevalence of firearms ownership in the United States, in response to the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut. Most of all, Morgan had relied on shallow emotional appeal: He had suggested, wrongly, that those who disagreed with his gun control proposals were hard-hearted regarding the deaths of the children.

During my interview with Morgan, I said he was acting like a bully — that he was standing on the graves of the children of Sandy Hook to push his political agenda. I pointed out that everyone on both sides of the aisle cares about the murder of innocent children, even if we disagree about the best ways to prevent such murders.

Within hours, I began to receive threatening messages. One such message noted my home address. I had a security system installed, and I purchased a Mossberg 500 pump-action shotgun, on the advice of a police officer.

During the most recent election cycle, I again received a bevy of death threats — this time thanks to my opposition to President Donald Trump’s candidacy. I received approximately 40 percent of all anti-Semitic tweets directed at Jewish journalists during the election cycle. I received threatening letters and death threats by phone. And so I purchased a Smith & Wesson 9mm handgun, again on the advice of a police officer. I have often considered carrying it in violation of the law, though I have never done so; the old Second Amendment adage “better to be tried by 12 than carried by 6” began to hit home during those difficult days.

Now, for owning two weapons for self-defense, I’m being labeled immoral again. All gun-owners are, collectively. How else are we to read the comments of Parkland, Fla., student Cameron Kasky, from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, who told Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) that thanks to his support for gun rights, Rubio resembled the Parkland shooter? How else are we to listen to the comments of Parkland student David Hogg, who said that National Rifle Association spokeswoman Dana Loesch “doesn’t care about these children’s lives”? I know Dana. We’re friends. She has two children, and she cares deeply about their safety. If she were local, there’s no one else I’d call first if my family were in danger and I needed help.

We’re all Americans. And we all care about the slaughter of children.

We’re all Americans. And we all care about the slaughter of children. That’s why I’ve called for the revision of federal law to allow gun violence restraining orders, a way for family members and friends of dangerously mentally ill people to apply to courts to restrict Second Amendment rights. That’s why my media outlet, The Daily Wire, has stopped naming and showing the faces of mass shooters, in an attempt to curb the publicity that often spawns such shootings. That’s why I’ve suggested a dramatic hardening of school security around the country: I went to YULA Boys High School, where security is top-notch — and I was there when the West Valley Jewish Community Center mass shooter drove right past our school, saw the security there, and kept driving. All children should feel just as safe as I did in high school.

Yes, we all care. And what’s more, I’m not going to give up my guns just because gun control advocates browbeat me. The Parkland students were failed by the FBI, which was warned twice about the shooter but did nothing. They were failed by the Broward County Sheriff’s Office, which received literally dozens of warnings but did nothing — and then they were failed again when armed deputies refused to storm the building.

The last line of defense isn’t the government. It’s me and my weapon. I’m keeping that weapon, and standing for Second Amendment rights, specifically because I care about my children. I assume those who disagree with me care about my kids, too. But there’s no way we’ll ever be able to find rational solutions if we shout at one another that our disagreements are evidence of our malice toward innocent children.

Ben Shapiro is a best-selling author, editor-in-chief at The Daily Wire and host of the podcast “The Ben Shapiro Show.”

Help Boys Be Better Boys

Photo from Max Pixel.

Amid the soul-searching that has followed the Florida shooting, there has been an implicit acknowledgement that there are in fact differences between the sexes. My friends on the left posted and reposted this stat: 98 percent of mass shootings are committed by men.

After decades of hearing that there are zero differences between the sexes, this acknowledgment is quite welcome. Unfortunately, the fact that it is being used to prop up a “masculinity is toxic” argument undermines its usefulness. Imagine what could be gained if we put theory aside and began to look at reality again.

First, let’s be clear: Masculinity did not cause the deaths of 17 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. A legally bought AR-15 did. An AR-15, combined with systemic failure on the part of the FBI, the police and school officials.

Second, this interest in sexual differences is based on a false premise: that these differences are “constructed” by society, that evil parents condition boys to be boys by continuously telling them to “stop with the emotion,” encouraging aggression, and prohibiting their desire to play with dolls.

When my son was 3, he ran to join the dozen other boys watching a construction site next to the playground. Not one girl stopped to watch, and I remember thinking: Maybe now the “no-difference” parents will begin to understand biological differences.

Once we return to accepting sexual differences, there’s much we can do to help boys — and girls — become their best selves.

Shortly afterward, a mother of one of his friends said to me: “I finally relented on the subject when I gave my son a Barbie and he used it to hammer down some Legos.”

I must interject here: There are, of course, some girls who enjoy watching construction sites and some boys who like to play with dolls. When we talk about sexual differences, we’re talking about how the majority of males and females act.

Boys are generally more physically aggressive than girls, and it’s not because of parental encouragement. In fact, good parents work hard at channeling their sons’ aggression into healthy, constructive pursuits. My son and I used to watch “The Ten Commandments” a lot, and every time we came to the scene where brawny Joshua helps to save Moses’ mother from being crushed, I made a point of saying, “See, this is how we use our strength.”

Unfortunately, some boys become bullies; their aggression turns violent, their energy is used to destroy, not create. This we surely can call toxic masculinity, and it is clear the Florida shooter fell into this category.

Would various Broward County institutions have been better equipped to treat him if there was a deeper understanding of how masculinity can turn toxic? No doubt. All schools — society in general — would gain radically from even an acknowledgement of sexual differences and the problems that can emerge.

Right now, most schools operate under the neutralization theory promulgated by academia for the past three decades: attempt to neutralize all differences. At my son’s elementary school, this has amounted to boys in kindergarten being sent to the principal’s office if they can’t sit completely still for hours on end. Oh, and gym class has been cut to once a week, and there’s only 20 minutes of recess. If it rains or snows, the kids are forced to sit for more than six hours with zero physical activity.

Would frequent diagnoses of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and other behavioral issues be significantly reduced if kids, especially boys, were allowed more time to run around? I looked at the schedule of the top all-boys school in New York as an answer: vigorous activity, academic work, vigorous activity, academic work.

The point is, once we return to accepting sexual differences, there’s much we can do to help boys — and girls — become their best selves. Belittling boys and men, the current trend, is not going to get us to that point.

My hope is that the horrific Florida shooting leads to much change, from gun laws to FBI responsiveness. It would not be insignificant if it also leads to a better understanding of differences between the sexes, and what can be done to foster self-respect and dignity for all kids.

It’s well past time to tear down the false gods, whether promulgated by the National Rifle Association or gender studies departments.

Karen Lehrman Bloch is a cultural critic and author.