Scott Travis and Tonya Alanez
Two students were arrested Tuesday for bringing knives to the Parkland school where 17 were killed by a gunman on Feb. 14 and a third is being mentally evaluated for making online threats.
Compounding the anxiety and tension emanating from the campus, a Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School deputy was suspended for sleeping on the job after being caught by a student on Monday evening, according to the Broward Sheriff’s Office.
The student notified a sergeant patrolling the school that Deputy Moises Carotti was asleep in his patrol car, said Veda Coleman-Wright, a spokeswoman for the sheriff’s office.
The sergeant knocked on Carotti’s window to wake him up, she said. Carotti was suspended with pay while an internal affairs investigation is launched.
Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said he was disheartened to learn of the allegations against Carotti.
“That a deputy was sleeping is incredibly disappointing,” he said. “As you know, I can’t comment on an ongoing internal affairs investigation, but once the findings are in I will make the appropriate decisions regarding the way we are going to handle it and the level of discipline.”
The matter was handled swiftly and appropriately, he said. “I’m extremely proud of the way the sergeant handled it. He identified an issue and immediately sent the deputy home.”
Tuesday’s school day began with the arrest of Jordan Salter, 18, after a conflict in the cafeteria. She poured cereal on another student’s head after he asked Salter’s friend a sexually offensive question. When the boy leaned in close to Salter’s face, she pulled a 2-inch black knife from her bra, opened it and displayed it, according to a report from the Broward Sheriff’s Office.
The next arrest came in the afternoon when school authorities learned that Gavin Stricker, 16, had brandished a knife on a bus Monday. He was called into the school’s office and a 9-inch knife was found in his backpack, according to a juvenile arrest report.
The third troubling event developed after screenshots of a sophomore’s Snapchat social media account circulated around campus. It showed the boy posing with a gun in his waistband along with images of bullets. The photos were captioned with “catch me out here n—-” and one referenced a student named Josh, the sheriff’s office said.
The student, who was hospitalized for a mental-health evaluation, told a detective that the firearm in the photo was a BB gun and the bullets belonged to his father, according to a sheriff’s office report.
He faces a misdemeanor charge for disrupting school with the social media threat. His hospitalization, under the state’s Baker Act, was prompted by self-inflicted wounds on his left arm, the report said.
The same student used the name “NickCruz” — an ominous nod toward the former student who has admitted to last month’s shooting spree — as his moniker for the online game Fortnite, according to the report. After he successfully clears a mental-health evaluation, the student will be taken to juvenile hall, the sheriff’s office said.
The unsettling incidents come a day after Zachary Cruz, the 18-year-old brother of Stoneman Douglas killer Nikolas Cruz, was arrested for trespassing on school grounds.
Nikolas Cruz, 19, has confessed to taking an AR-15 to the Parkland school on Valentine’s Day and gunning down students and faculty. Seventeen died and another 17 were wounded.
Nikolas Cruz faces the death penalty and is locked up in the Broward Main Jail.
Zachary Cruz, branded a threat by prosecutors, is jailed on a $500,000 bond. Since his arrest Monday, he has been taken to a hospital for involuntary psychiatric treatment, the sheriff’s office said.
Meanwhile, Amanda Stricker, mother of the boy who had a knife in his backpack fought back tears as she explained that his sister was in one of the classrooms that got shot up during Cruz’s deadly rampage.
She said school authorities told her that her son admitted to carrying the knife “for protection.”
“I think he was as scared as the rest of us were,” Amanda Stricker said. “We thought he was doing OK, and I think he wasn’t doing as well as we thought he was.”
Broward schools Superintendent Robert Runcie said Stoneman Douglas has been rocked to its core and every new development takes on “a whole different level of awareness.”
“When a school gets impacted by an event like this, it changes the school,” he said. “We’ll see what the impacts are over time. People are still affected. Kids are grieving and concerned. They have fears. We need to continue to be sensitive to that at the same time we try to function in as normal a sense as we can, recognizing this is not a normal state we’re in and extra vigilance is required. We’ll continue to do what we can to support the community.”
In light of Zachary Cruz’s unlawful entry onto school grounds, district staff are reviewing security protocols, Runcie said.
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