Re-creation of Parkland School Shooting Set to Echo Gunfire Once Again

by Chloe Baker
Parkland school shooting reenactment

The harrowing echoes of gunfire will resound within Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland on Friday, as a re-creation of the deadly 2018 attack, that claimed 17 lives and left an equal number wounded and many more emotionally scarred, takes place. This simulation is being carried out for the lawsuits initiated by the affected families and the injured.

Ballistics experts representing the families will perform the simulation, discharging up to 139 rounds inside a three-floor academic building. This exercise is part of the litigation against the school’s on-duty deputy at the time, Scot Peterson, and his employer, the Broward Sheriff’s Office.

Live rounds will be fired from the exact locations where the shooter, Nikolas Cruz, had fired from on February 14, 2018, with an identical AR-15-style semi-automatic rifle. The bullets will be safely caught in a containment device.

Technicians stationed outside will capture the sound of the shots, aiming to demonstrate what Peterson might have heard during the six-minute assault. With the school currently on summer vacation, no students or faculty will be present on campus.

Peterson has maintained that he did not hear all the shots and was unable to identify their origin due to echoing. He reportedly approached the entrance of the building, drew his weapon, but subsequently retreated and stayed next to a nearby building for 40 minutes, making radio calls.

The families argue that Peterson was aware of Cruz’s location but retreated due to fear, contrary to his duty to safeguard their loved ones.

Despite being acquitted in June of felony child neglect and other charges for failure to act – a landmark case for a law enforcement officer’s conduct during a school shooting – Peterson, 60, faces a civil lawsuit where the burden of proof is lower. The families and the injured are seeking unspecified damages.

The attorney representing the families in the re-creation, David Brill, could not be reached for comment, while Peterson’s attorney, Michael Piper, declined to comment.

Tony Montalto, president of Stand with Parkland, which represents most of the families, stated that Peterson’s acquittal doesn’t imply he didn’t fail to perform his duty appropriately.

Parkland has issued warnings to its residents so as not to incite panic upon hearing the gunfire and to allow them to mentally prepare. Furthermore, Eagles’ Haven, a wellness center established post-shooting, is arranging various activities on Friday, including yoga, tai chi, a drum circle, and meditation, as well as providing food, encouraging people to converse.

The re-creation of the shooting, according to experts, is likely to invoke painful memories among the community members. The days following the re-enactment will witness the commencement of the demolition of the building involved, a decision taken by the Broward school district after it stood as a grim reminder and evidence in the Cruz and Peterson trials. Cruz, 24, pleaded guilty in 2021 and was sentenced to life imprisonment in 2022 when the jury could not unanimously agree on a death sentence.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Parkland school shooting reenactment

Why is there a reenactment of the Parkland school shooting?

The reenactment of the Parkland school shooting is being conducted to support lawsuits filed by the victims’ families and those injured during the attack. The exercise aims to replicate the shooter’s actions and determine what the then-on-duty deputy heard during the attack.

Who is conducting the reenactment of the Parkland school shooting?

Ballistics experts representing the families affected by the Parkland school shooting are conducting the reenactment. They will fire live ammunition from the same spots where the shooter did, using an identical AR-15-style semi-automatic rifle.

What is the purpose of recording the gunfire during the reenactment?

Technicians will record the shots during the reenactment to demonstrate what Scot Peterson, the school’s then-assigned deputy, might have heard during the six-minute attack. This recording forms part of the evidence in the civil lawsuit against Peterson.

Was Scot Peterson convicted in a criminal trial?

No, Scot Peterson was acquitted in June on charges of felony child neglect and other criminal charges related to failing to act during the school shooting. However, he now faces a civil lawsuit where the burden of proof is lower.

What will happen to the school building after the reenactment?

After the reenactment, the Broward school district plans to begin demolishing the building. It had remained standing as evidence in the criminal trials of Nikolas Cruz, the shooter, and Scot Peterson.

What was Nikolas Cruz’s sentence?

Nikolas Cruz pleaded guilty in 2021 to the shooting. He was sentenced to life in prison in 2022 after the jury could not unanimously agree on a death sentence.

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BrowardNative August 3, 2023 - 4:06 pm

As a Parkland resident, this is just too much. we’ve been through enough… Now gunshots again? even if it’s a test… it’s just scary

ErikH August 3, 2023 - 10:43 pm

I understand the need for this but still, it’s a brutal reminder for those affected. hope this leads to some positive change in school safety!

MikeD August 4, 2023 - 4:12 am

man, this is just crazy…can’t imagine what the families are goin through right now. And the reenactment, is it really necessary? I get it’s for the lawsuits but dang…

LizT August 4, 2023 - 6:56 am

it’s hard enough to move on and now this? can’t they find a better way to handle the lawsuit? just thinking of the trauma those families are going through… breaks my heart…


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