The Parkland killer was, as we later learned, a seriously messed up person. He was violent and the Broward County Sheriff’s Office was pretty much on a first-name basis with the monster-in-making from all the calls they’d responded to.
He was not a good person. We know that quite well. He is the reason we’re talking about red flag laws. After all, we looked back at his life and wondered how anyone could miss what was brewing right under their noses.
Meadow Pollack was one of those killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that Valentine’s Day. Her father, Andrew, couldn’t believe what happened. As he delved deeper, though, he found something fascinating and awful all at once. He found that the killer should never have been at that school in the first place.
After the deadly Feb. 14, 2018, mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., national media focused largely on a handful of student activists, leaving it to victims’ parents to unravel why the slaughter happened. Andrew Pollack, whose daughter, Meadow, was one of the 17 killed, conducted his own investigation to uncover the roots of what he calls the most avoidable mass murder in American history. He and Max Eden are co-authors of “Why Meadow Died: The People and Policies that Created the Parkland Shooter and Endanger America’s Students.” This adapted excerpt, based on never-before-released educational records of the shooter, [name redacted], shows the Broward County school district knew full well about his obsession with guns and murder — and then let him practice shooting at school.
When staff at Westglades Middle School heard that [the killer] had committed the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, some couldn’t believe it. The fact that he was a mass murderer wasn’t what surprised them, but rather the fact that he had attended that school.
“How is that possible?” one Westglades educator recalled thinking. “We did our jobs. It took forever, but we got him [to the specialized school] where he needed to go. We couldn’t believe they ever let him into [Douglas].”
What Pollock reportedly found was that the killer had a long, twisted history that should have precluded him from attending normal schools. He was a seriously disturbed individual who needed profound psychological help.
Yet there he was, at a regular school that generally lacked the resources to deal with someone with the killer’s violent outburst and bizarre proclivities.
Further, there was the decision to allow the killer–someone who had reportedly thrown a chair across a classroom in middle school–to become part of the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC), this despite a psychiatrist familiar with the killer arguing, “interested in [J]ROTC? — not advised … Discussed the safety of others/himself.”
So what happened?
But the next month, every member of [the killer’s] “Child Study Team” recommended that he be mainstreamed for two class periods a day at the beginning of the 2015-16 school year: for one class to be determined and JROTC.
[He] couldn’t possibly have made himself any clearer. Broward schools staff knew exactly who and what he was. Yet they not only allowed him to enroll in Marjory Stoneman Douglas, they literally gave him an air gun, shaped like an AR-15, and let him practice shooting.
This may sound astonishing. But it was all according to policy. The official review of [his] educational history registered no objections to anything you just read.
There were a lot of dropped balls with regard to the killer, but perhaps the worst is just how the media failed to note the series of failures at the Broward County schools to have allowed this monster to attend in the first place.
No, they may not have envisioned him representing such a horrific danger to the degree he turned out to be, but how did they not see that this was someone who needed a different, specialized educational environment.
Perhaps more terrifying is that rather than address any of this, politicians have latched onto blaming the firearm for the crime rather than the series of governmental failures that made his atrocities possible. On that same day, millions upon millions of other AR-15s were used for no unlawful purposes, yet it became the boogieman rather than the failures that put that killer in that school.
Politicians now think only the government should be trusted with “weapons of war,” as they like to describe them, but since they clearly bear part of the responsibility for Parkland, is there any reason why we should trust them with them?