Miramar SWAT team members who instinctively rushed to the scene of the Parkland school shooting are not being hailed as heroes for their bravery.
The two officers, training in nearby Coral Springs earlier on the day last month when Nikolas Cruz opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, were suspended because they apparently were not given permission to respond, the Miami Herald reported.
“Effective immediately you have been suspended from the SWAT Team until further notice,” Capt. Kevin Nosowicz, the unit’s commander, wrote in a memo to Det. Jeffery Gilbert and Det. Carl Schlosser dated Feb. 22, just eight days after the massacre that claimed the lives of 17 people.
“Please make arrangements with the training department to turn in your SWAT-issued rifle,” the memo, obtained by the Miami Herald, read.
The officers were told they acted “without the knowledge or authorization from your chain of command” and created an “officer safety situation due to dispatch not knowing your location or activity.” Neither their own commander nor the Broward Sheriff’s Office were aware that the men had headed to the school where the BSO already had its own SWAT team in place.
According to the Miami Herald:
Four armed deputies, including school resource officer Scot Peterson, did not immediately enter the building where Cruz slaughtered students and staff, as Broward Sheriff Scott Israel has said is agency policy. A BSO captain also issued an order to form a perimeter while many deputies thought the shooting was still going on, according to a partial dispatch log obtained by the Herald. (It had, in fact, ended minutes earlier and BSO has defended the captain’s actions.)
A third SWAT member, Officer Kevin Gonzalez, was also temporarily suspended for violating the department’s social media policy as he was connected to several posts that criticized Miramar police after the shooting.
Gilbert and Schlosser’s union had a different view of the actions of the officers.
“While it may have been a violation of policy to not notify their supervisors that they were going there, their intentions were brave and heroic, I think,” Broward County PBA President Jeff Marano said Wednesday, according to the Sun Sentinel.
Pat Franklin, a retired Miami Beach police detective, countered that too many responders on the scene where there are mass casualties can actually be detrimental.
“This is not their area, this is not their jurisdiction,” Franklin said, according to the Miami Herald. “You don’t want to let those guys loose into something that’s chaotic where they might take inappropriate action. It is prudent to have them stand down unless there is a plan.”
Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel and his office have come under fire as questions arose about the agency’s response in the crucial first moments of the shooting.
The Miramar SWAT team was placed on standby that afternoon, but never received a call from the Broward County police, police spokeswoman Tania Rues told the Sun Sentinel. The Broward County Sheriff’s office would not confirm if anyone from their office spoke to Miramar police dept that afternoon, but told the Sentinel on Wednesday, that they were “not needed.”