Witnesses relive Stoneman Douglas shooting for jury in Broward MP’s negligence trial

Students hid in cars parked just north of the 1200 building at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School as a gunman forced his way through the halls on February 14, 2018.

Campus monitor Brian Staubly said he chased them away, telling them to move further away from the 1200 building. That’s where, he said, the gunfire started.

Staubly spoke on Thursday at the trial of former Broward Sheriff’s Deputy Scot Peterson, who is charged with child neglect and culpable neglect for failing to run to the 1200 building to confront shooter Nikolas Cruz, which killed 17 students and staff and injured 17 others in the mass shooting.

Thursday’s testimony was also notable for testimony from Kyle Laman, who was injured on the third floor during the shooting. Prosecutors say Laman is one of the underage students who could have been spared had Peterson tried to find and confront Cruz.

Watching a recording of the series of shootings on the third floor, Laman winced at the memory of his pain, panting, digging his left fist into his right hand in a vain effort to stop the tears that inevitably began to flow.

The jurors saw the same video, which was not released to the general public.

Staubly’s certainty about the source of the shots contrasted with the defense’s assertion that Peterson and other law enforcement officers at the scene were uncertain of the source of the shots.

Earlier Thursday, Coral Springs Police Sgt. Jeff Heinrich told jurors that law enforcement officers are trained to walk towards gunfire to neutralize the threat posed by a gunman. “When the shots ring out, you have to assume someone is dying,” he said.

What Peterson heard and how he interpreted it became a central issue in the case. Peterson maintains that from his vantage point, just south of Building 1200, outside Building 700, he could not say for sure that the gunshots he heard came from inside Building 1200.

All shots fired at the school this afternoon were from the AR-15 style rifle carried by Cruz, and all were inside Building 1200.

But at the time, not everyone knew that. And not everyone knew there was only one shooter.

“It reverberates,” Heinrich said of the sound of gunfire. “I felt at that moment that they were coming from the sector of building 12 at 1300… I could not tell you if they were inside, outside, on the roof, on the third floor, second floor. … All I could say is what I heard.

He heard another officer say, “They’re shooting at us,” indicating uncertainty about the number of shooters and whether any shots were coming from the building.

Heinrich and other officers took cover, as did Peterson. Heinrich discovered with certainty that the shots were coming from inside the building when he encountered an injured student outside the west side of the building.

It was Laman.

Cross-examined by defense attorney Mark Eiglarsh, Laman said he did not hear the gunshots on the first floor.

The trial is due to continue Thursday afternoon.


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