Parkland Shooting Investigation: Ignoring a Simple Security Measure Led to Higher Death Toll

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Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

People died in the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School because the school failed to implement a simple security measure that had been recommended twice to teachers and administrators, according to testimony Wednesday at a meeting of the state commission investigating the massacre.

Security experts on two separate occasions in the past two years advised teachers and administrators to mark safe areas called “hard corners” in each classroom, said Pinellas County Sheriff’s Detective Walter Bonasoro, serving as an investigator for the commission.

These are areas located at an angle that would prevent anyone firing a gun through the classroom door from hitting anyone in them.

But just two teachers in Building 12, where the shooting took place, marked off hard corners, using tape, and these had too much furniture and other materials for all students to be able to crowd into them during the shooting.

Max Schachter, whose son Alex was killed, asked if anyone died because of the failure to have marked, cleared hard corners.

Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, the chairman of the commission, said, “There were some, definitely.”

“One in particular died on the line because she was nudged out of a hard corner and couldn’t get in,” he said.

The schools’ personnel were advised to implement them by Al Butler, a school district security expert, and Steven Wexler, a retired Secret Service agent.

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“Broward County Public Schools does not have a policy relating to classroom set up, other than the minimum standards established by the fire code,” stated a written presentation given to the commission Wednesday. “The District has no policy regarding the establishment of hard corners or safe areas in each room.”

Gualtieri said there is still no districtwide policy requiring hard corners.

Schachter said he found this “unbelievable.”

“It takes zero dollars to do it,” he said. “It needs to be done districtwide.”

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