On February 14, 2018, fourteen students and three staff members at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland Florida were fatally shot and seventeen others were wounded, in one of the deadliest school massacres in United States’ history.
The gunman Nikolas Cruz, age 19 at the time of the incident, was a former student of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Cruz was a troubled child and young adult who displayed aggressive and violent tendencies as early as 3-years-old. Cruz struggled in academics and attended several schools. There are reports of behavioral issues at all of the schools he attended. He was under the care of mental health professionals from age 11 until he turned age 18 and refused further services.
At 2:19 p.m. on February 14, 2018, Cruz exited an Uber ride sharing service at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School armed with a rifle and several hundred rounds of ammunition concealed in a rifle bag. He entered the school through an unstaffed gate that had been opened for school dismissal and made his way towards building 12 on the North side of campus. He entered the east side of building 12 through an unlocked and unstaffed door. He made his way through all three floors firing into classrooms and hallways and killing or wounding 34 individuals. He exited building 12 and ran across campus, blending in with students evacuating. Cruz was apprehended approximately 1 hour and 16 minutes after the first shots and charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder and 17 counts of attempted murder.
The following is a summary timeline of events at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on February 14, 2018. A more thorough and detailed analysis of the events occurs in subsequent chapters.
At 2:19 pm, Nikolas Cruz was dropped off by an Uber on Pine Island Road east of building 12. He was wearing a pair of black pants, a burgundy MSDHS JROTC shirt and a dark colored ball-cap. He continued west toward building 12 and during that time he was seen by Campus Monitor Andrew Medina (the details of Medina’s observations are more thoroughly documented in chapter 4).
At 2:21:16, Cruz entered the east hallway doors of building 12. Students Ashley Baez, Luke Hoyer and Martin Duque entered the building immediately prior to Cruz’s entry. Cruz made an immediate right turn into the east stairwell. At the base of the stairs, he loaded his semi-automatic rifle and put on a magazine-carrying vest (the vest did not have any anti-ballistic qualities). While Cruz was loading his firearm, student Chris McKenna happened upon Cruz in the east stairwell and saw Cruz with his gun. McKenna told investigators that Cruz said to him “you better get out of here, something bad is about to happen…he told me to run.” McKenna fled out of the east stairwell door of building 12.
At approximately 2:21:33, Cruz exited the stairwell and immediately raised the rifle to afiring position, but the rifle did not fire. Cruz lowered the rifle and looked down at it briefly as if inspecting a malfunction or to disengage the safety. He again raised the rifle to a firing position.
At 2:21:38, Cruz fired the first rounds to the west of the first floor hallway. Ashley Baez (non-fatal), Martin Duque (fatal), Luke Hoyer (fatal) and Gina Montalto (fatal) were all shot in the hallway. Only Baez survived her injuries.
Montalto was sitting in the alcove of her classroom, 1215. Hoyer and Duque were standing just outside of that same door, apparently returning to class. Baez was walking west in the hall and approaching the alcove of the women’s restroom. After the shots, Baez ran into the alcove of the women’s restroom. Percussion from the gunshots caused dust to fall from the drop-ceiling tiles, which activated the campus fire alarms within a matter of seconds.
At 2:21:40, after shooting towards Baez, Cruz turned his rifle toward classroom 1216. It is important to note that Cruz never entered a single classroom in building 12 and only shot those people in his line of site in a classroom or hallway. All gunshots were fired into classrooms through the classroom door or the window within the classroom door. Cruz fired into classroom 1216 on two occasions and between those two instances there were eight victims. Of the eight victims, three were fatalities: Alyssa Alhadeff, Alaina Petty, and Alex Schachter. The five wounded victims were William Olson, Gensis Valentin, Justin Colton, Alexander Dworet, and Kheshava Mangapuram. The speed with which this attack happened prevented some students from even having a chance to respond and at least one student was struck while seated at his desk.
At 2:21:41, Cruz lowered the rifle again. Simultaneously, Baez ran from the alcove of the women’s restroom. She ran across the hall (south) and into classroom 1210. Baez hid in the classroom with other students and the teacher until she would later be rescued by law enforcement. She suffered a severe, but non-fatal, wound to her left thigh.
After Cruz lowered the rifle, he took a knee in the hall outside of the alcove of classroom 1216. He removed a knit ski-mask and camouflage shirt from the bag and placed these items on the ground, but he never put them on.
From approximately 2:21:48 – 2:22:10, Cruz’s movements were not recorded due to dust effecting the motion-sensor cameras.
At 2:22:13, Cruz was again standing and raised the rifle to a firing position as he was in front of the doors to classrooms 1214 and 1215. Cell phone video from within classroom 1215 recorded sounds of the gunfire and reaction by the students. There were six victims within classroom 1214. The two fatalities from this classroom were Nicholas Dworet and Helena Ramsay. The persons who suffered non-fatal injuries were Isabel Chequer, Samantha Fuentes, Samantha Grady, and Daniela Menescal.
Simultaneous to Cruz firing those rounds, the first phone 911 call was received by the Coral Springs Communications Center. The call came from someone inside building 12.
At approximately 2:22:32, Cruz left the area in front of classrooms 1214 and 1215. During the time Cruz spent in front of classrooms 1214 and 1215, the first 911 call was made (2:22:13) and Deputy Peterson and Security Specialist Kelvin Greenleaf met outside of building 1 (2:22:14).
From 2:22:33 – 2:22:43, there was a lapse in footage of Cruz’s movements due to dust in the effecting the motion-sensor cameras.
At 2:22:39, the fire alarms became active within building 12 and at various locations on campus. Cell phone video from classroom 1213 recorded the activation of the fire alarm and gunshots being fired into neighboring classroom 1216. Cell phone video from classroom 1255 (third floor) captured the very faint sound of gunshots. In response, students joked in a seemingly nervous manner and questioned what the noise was. As the fire alarms activated, students in 1255 screamed in panic.
At 2:22:42, over 20 students began to sprint from classroom 1250 (third floor) towards the west stairwell. The speed with which they ran and their body language indicates they knew this was not a routine fire drill. Simultaneously, Assistant Principal Winfred Porter moved quickly within building 1 toward the fire alarm panel in the office of Deputy Peterson.
At 2:22:43, Cruz was standing immediately outside of the door to classroom 1216 with his rifle raised in a firing position. This was the second time that Cruz fired into classroom 1216.
At 2:22:47, several students on the second floor ran in a panic into classrooms.
At 2:22:48, Campus Monitor Chris Hixon opened the double doors to the west end of the first floor hall in building 12 and quickly ran east down the hall. Simultaneously, Cruz exited the alcove to classrooms 1216 and 1217 and turned west in the direction of Hixon. Cruz raised his rifle and shot Hixon; causing him to fall to the ground almost immediately. Cruz briefly stood in front of the doors to classrooms 1214 and 1215. During that time, Hixon quickly crawled across the hall and concealed himself behind a wall.
At 2:22:52, students who were running down the west stairs from the third floor turned around and ran back up toward the third floor. This was the group of students who fled classroom 1250 at 2:22:42. The time at which they turned around on the stairs coincides with the time at which Cruz shot Hixon. As those students returned to the third floor hall they encountered other students who were calmly evacuating from their classrooms in a manner consistent with a fire drill.
By 2:22:57, all students who were on the second floor hall concealed themselves into classrooms leaving the second floor hallway empty. No individuals were shot on the second floor. This is also the time at which the fire alarms shut off.
At 2:23:05, Cruz entered the alcove for classrooms 1212 and 1213, where he fired additional rounds. Classroom 1213 had four victims. Of the four victims, Carmen Schentrup was the only fatality. Samantha Mayor, Madeleine Wilford and Ben Wikander all suffered non-fatal injuries. During this time, a large crowd of students was forming in the hall of the third floor and, for the most part, they were casually walking toward the stairs.
At 2:23:14, Cruz exited the alcove for classrooms 1212 and 1213. He continued walking west through the first floor hall. By this time, well over 100 students were in the east end of the third floor hall with no indication that a shooter was present in the building. Many students were smiling and apparently engaged in casual conversation because no Code Red was called.
At 2:23:17, Deputy Peterson arrived at the east side of building 12 as Cruz was approaching the west end of the first floor.
At 2:23:19, Cruz began to run west through the first floor hall as Deputy Peterson, Security Specialist Kelvin Greenleaf and Campus Monitor Andrew Medina had just arrived on the east side of building 12. Hixon was lying on the ground behind a wall in the west end of the first floor.
At 2:23:22, Cruz passed Hixon and shot him additional times. At the same time, students at the top of the east stairwell looked down the stairwell and appeared hesitant to continue downstairs.
At approximately 2:23:25, Campus Monitor Aaron Feis opened the exterior door of the west stairwell on the first floor. Simultaneously, Cruz opened one of the interior doors to that same stairwell so that he was immediately facing Feis. Cruz immediately raised the rifle and shot Feis. Feis was fatally wounded and was later found lying on the ground just outside of the same door he had opened. Cruz continued up the west stairwell to the second floor as Deputy Peterson was making the first radio transmissions (2:23:26) about “possible shots fired.”
A large crowd of students remained on the third floor landing of the east stairs. Many students were looking down the stairwell and a small number of them continued down the stairs. The east end of the third floor was packed with students, shoulder-to-shoulder, slowly moving toward the east stairwell. There was obvious confusion among these students on the third floor.
At 2:23:30, teacher Ernest Rospierski stopped a group of students who were casually moving toward the west stairwell on the third floor. He turned them around so that they were moving east.
At 2:23:36, Cruz entered the west end of the second floor hall. He raised his rifle to a firing position, but the hall was empty and he did not fire any rounds at that time. Cruz later shot six rounds into classrooms on the second floor; however no one was hit or injured by these rounds. Cruz continued east in the second floor hall. It is reported by students who were on the second floor that Cruz made statements to the effect “no one is here” as he moved down the second floor hallway.
At 2:23:40, the east end of the third floor was still packed with students. Some students turned back towards the west, traveling against the crowd, but still with no sense of urgency.
At 2:23:43, as Cruz continued past the doors to classrooms 1229 and 1230, he quickly peered in through the windows looking for targets. He saw no targets and continued east through the second floor hall. These classrooms were occupied but because the second floor treated the incident as an active assailant response, as opposed to a fire evacuation like the third floor students (above photo), students in the second floor classrooms were not in Cruz’s line of sight to be shot.
While Cruz was shooting, Deputy Peterson and Security Specialist Greenleaf fled south from the east side of building 12 toward stairs near the northeast corner of building 7.
At 2:23:48, Cruz reached the alcove for classrooms 1231 and 1232 (still on the second floor). Deputy Peterson had reached his location near the northeast corner of building 7 where he would remain for approximately the next 48 minutes. Teacher Ernest Rospierski was standing alone on the third floor landing of the west stairwell looking down the stairs.
At 2:23:51, Cruz fired rounds into classroom 1231 – again, no one was injured or killed by these rounds. This caused an immediate reaction in Mr. Rospierski in the west stairwell, students who had been gathered near the top of the east stairwell and the mass of students in the east end of the third floor. Rospierski quickly went back into the west end of the third floor as students on the east end turned and began to flee west. Cruz left the alcove for classrooms 1231 and 1232 and continued east on the second floor.
At 2:23:55, Cruz reached the door to classroom 1233, and within seconds, he moved next door to classroom 1234. Cruz fired rounds through the door of classroom 1234, which was occupied. These rounds struck the exterior window on the south side of building 12. This window was immediately northwest (70 feet) of Deputy Peterson’s location.
Simultaneously, students were running up the east stairwell to the third floor and students on the third floor were beginning to return to classrooms.
At 2:23:58, as Cruz was firing into classroom 1234, students were running in a panic west on the third floor toward Mr. Rospierski. He calmly raised his hand to direct them into classrooms. Some students attempted to enter Mr. Rospierski’s classroom, but were unable because the doors automatically locked behind them as they left class.
At 2:24:10, Cruz reached the alcove for classrooms 1235 and 1236. By this point, the east and west ends of the third floor were mostly empty, but a large crowd of students remained in the middle of the third floor hall.
At 2:24:17, Cruz entered the east stairwell and scanned the stairwell looking for additional targets. Rospierski remained with students outside of his classroom attempting to locate his keys as students were moving into other classrooms.
At 2:24:30, Cruz entered the east end of the third floor hall. Where approximately twenty people still remained in the hall.
At 2:24:32, Cruz fired west down the third floor hall. During the multiple volleys of rounds fired in the third floor hall, Cruz shot ten people. Of the ten victims, six were fatalities: Scott Beigel (teacher), Jaime Guttenberg, Cara Loughran, Joaquin Oliver, Meadow Pollack, and Peter Wang. Four persons suffered non-fatal injuries: Anthony Borges, Marian Kabachenko, Kyle Laman and Stacey Lippel (teacher). Mr. Beigel and Ms. Lippel were at their respective classroom doors holding them open for students as they were shot. Once Cruz began shooting, Rospierski and approximately nine students ducked into the alcove of his classroom. Joaquin Oliver and Meadow Pollack darted into the alcove of the women’s restroom. Kyle Laman ran into the alcove of the men’s restroom. Oliver and Pollack then quickly exited the alcove of the locked women’s restroom. Pollack ran across the hall to join Rospierski and the other students in the alcove of his classroom doors. Oliver ran to the alcove of the locked men’s restroom after apparently seeing there was limited room in the alcove of Rospierski’s classroom. The door to the third floor restrooms had been locked due to ongoing issues with students vaping in the bathroom.
At 2:24:45, Cruz turned around and began to walk east in the third floor hall while retrieving a magazine from his vest. Rospierski peaked from the alcove of his classroom door and then quickly moved into the neighboring alcove (classroom 1250). Rospierski found the door to that classroom to be locked as well.
At 2:24:50, Cruz turned back around to the west while inserting a new magazine into his rifle. Simultaneously, Rospierski ran from the alcove of classroom 1250 to the west and directed 10 students to flee with him toward the west stairwell. Pollack had been shot and was lying on the ground and Loughran remained in the alcove, which was out of view of the camera.
At 2:24:54, Campus Monitor Elliott Bonner called the first verifiable Code Red. Radio transmissions by other campus monitors caused Campus Monitor Elliot Bonner to come to building 12. After seeing Feis on the ground outside the building and hearing gunshots, he called the Code Red over the school radio system.
At 2:24:58, Cruz raised the rifle to the west and began firing toward the group of students fleeing with Rospierski. Guttenberg and Wang were shot within feet of reaching the west stairwell. Eight of the ten students who fled with Rospierski made it down the west stairwell. Rospierski remained on the third floor landing with Guttenberg who was lying on the ground.
At 2:25:12, Cruz reached the alcove for Rospierski’s classroom (1249). He raised the rifle and again shot Pollack and Loughran.
At 2:25:20, Cruz entered the alcove to the men’s restroom where Oliver had hidden. Cruz raised the rifle and again shot Oliver.
At 2:25:26, Cruz fired additional rounds to the west. Several rounds struck the windows at the west end of the hall.
At 2:25:30, Cruz reached the door to the west stairwell and unsuccessfully attempted to open the door as Rospierski was concealed behind it.
At 2:25:35, Cruz left the west stairwell and moved on toward the teacher’s lounge. There were no surveillance cameras in the teacher’s lounge, which was located in the northwest corner of building 12. While inside that room, Cruz attempted to shoot out the windows on the south and west sides of the room in an attempt to set-up a sniper position to target additional victims.
At 2:26:24, Sergeant B. Reid (CSPD) asked dispatch if there is an active shooter. Dispatch confirmed there was an active shooter at MSDHS.
At 2:26:54, Officer T. Burton (CSPD) broadcasted over the radio that he had arrived at MSDHS.
From 2:27:03 – 2:27:10, the body camera of Deputy J. Stambaugh (BSO) captured the sounds of Cruz’s last gunshots. At that point, there were eight BSO deputies on or in the immediate area of campus. In their interviews each of these deputies said heard they gunshots: Sergeant B. Miller, Deputy S. Peterson, Deputy E. Eason, Deputy M. Kratz, Deputy J. Stambaugh, Deputy R. Seward, Deputy A. Perry and Detective B. Goolsby. None of these BSO deputies immediately responded to the gun shots by entering the campus and seeking out the shooter.
At 2:27:10, Cruz fired the last gunshot.
At 2:27:12, Rospierski fled the third floor landing of the west stairwell. He ran down the second floor and took cover behind a locked door until he was evacuated by law enforcement.
At 2:27:35, Cruz entered the west stairwell on the third floor. He placed his rifle vest and 180 live rounds on the ground and ran down the stairs.
At 2:27:54, Cruz exited the west end of building 12 and fled west between buildings 6 and 13. Upon reaching the northwest corner of building 6, he turned left (south), and continued running south to the southwest corner of building 9 and continued running southwest toward the group of fleeing students.
At 2:28:00, Deputy Peterson told BSO deputies to stay at least 500 feet away from building 12.
At 2:29:16, Officer Burton transmitted that Cruz was “…last seen in the three-story building, north parking lot.”
At 2:29:35, Captain J. Jordan and Lieutenant M. DeVita entered building 1, the administration building.
At 2:29:47, Cruz joined in with a large group of students who were fleeing west towards Westglades Middle School.
At 2:32:42, the first responding law enforcement officers entered building 12 through the west doors. These were four officers with CSPD and there were BSO deputies just outside the door.
At 2:37:18, Captain Jordan exited building 1. She ran to meet with Sergeant I. Sklar (BSO) in the parking lot in front of building 8. Captain Jordan attempted to use both of his radios but neither of them were working properly.
2:40:00 is the estimated time at which Captain Jordan and Sergeant I. Sklar arrived on Holmberg Road near the west entrance to the student parking lot.
At 2:40:16, the first mass evacuation of students began.
At 2:41:55, Sergeant Rossman engaged Assistant Principal Porter and Campus Monitor Medina about their observations and the school camera system.
At 2:48:33, all first floor classrooms and the office had been searched by law enforcement.
At 2:48:47, Cruz walked through the Wal-Mart parking lot located at 6001 Coral Ridge Drive, Coral Springs (captured on surveillance video).
At 2:50:40, Sergeant Rossman (BSO) and Officer Best (CSPD) transmitted over their respective radios that Cruz was last seen on the second floor.
At 2:51:00, Cruz entered the Subway inside of Wal-Mart where he ordered a drink.
At 2:52:39, a group of law enforcement officers led by Sergeant T. Garcia (BSO-SWAT) reached the second floor landing on the west side of building 12 still believing that Cruz was in the building.
At 2:53:40, Cruz exited the Wal-Mart.
At 2:54:32, Sergeant Rossman (BSO) broadcasted that Cruz moved from the third floor to the second floor as if that was occurring in real time. Shortly thereafter, Captain Mock (CSPD) broadcasted the same information over the CSPD radio.
At 2:55:02, Sergeant Rossman was first notified by Assistant Principal Porter that the information he was receiving from the camera room via the school radio was not live. Rossman would not broadcast that information over the BSO radio for approximately another seven minutes.
At 2:59:59, Captain S. Robson (BSO-SWAT) arrived north of building 13 where he met with Captain Jordan.
At 3:00:22, Captain R. Gallagher (CSPD) broadcasted over the CSPD radio channel that the video was on a delay.
At 3:01:03, Cruz entered the McDonald’s located at 5741 Coral Ridge Drive, Coral Springs. Within seconds Cruz sat at a table with John Wilford. Unbeknownst to both Cruz and Wilford, Wilford’s sister Madeleine had been shot by Cruz and suffered serious but nonfatal injuries.
At 3:02:09, Cruz exited McDonald’s and continued walking south.
At 3:02:20, Sergeant Rossman (BSO) broadcasted over the BSO radio channel that the school surveillance video is on a delay and that Cruz fled building 12 approximately 20 minutes earlier.
By 3:03:00, 15 victims had been removed from the first floor. 13 of those 15 victims survived their injuries.
At 3:03:22, all second floor classrooms had been checked by law enforcement.
At 3:07:15, the last surviving victim to be removed by first responders, Anthony Borges, was carried down the stairs from the third floor by law enforcement and SWAT medics. All other surviving victims suffered minor injuries and self-evacuated at the direction of law enforcement.
At 3:08:24, all classroom doors in building 12 had been checked by law enforcement.
At 3:09:40, law enforcement had gained control of all hallways and stairwells in building 12.
3:11:20 is the first time at which Deputy Peterson left his position near the northeast corner of building 7. He arrived there approximately 48 minutes earlier at 2:23:48.
At 3:16:44, Colonel J. Polan (BSO) arrived at the Tactical Operations Command (TOC) and took over as the incident commander. The TOC was located in the student parking lot north of building 13.
By 3:17:45, all classrooms in building 12 had been accessed by law enforcement.
At 3:17:53, the BSO mobile command center arrived on Pine Island Road near the southeast corner of campus.
At 3:21:01, Captain Mock transmitted that he was with BSO and their command staff. This was the first indication that CSPD command staff and the BSO Incident Commander(s) were in direct communication.
At approximately 3:37:45, Cruz was detained by Officer M. Leonard of the Coconut Creek Police Department approximately two miles southwest of the MSD campus.