Surveillance footage from the Florida high school where 17 people were fatally shot and more than a dozen others wounded was not shown live, as responding officers initially thought.
It was on a 26-minute delay, leading police to brace for a shootout when the gunman was actually long gone, Coral Springs Police Capt. Brad McKeone said.
“Nobody told us,” Coral Springs Police Chief Tony Pustizzi told the Sun Sentinel, which first reported the tape delay.
But McKeone, one of the responding officers, said the delay did not hinder access to the victims.
“It had no delay. It didn’t slow us down to getting us to anybody,” McKeone told CNN.
The main difference, he said, was that officers thought they were going to confront the gunman. In reality, the shooter had already left Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.
“I expected to be in a gunbattle,” McKeone said.
Broward County Public Schools had not responded to CNN’s request for comment Thursday about the school surveillance system. The Broward County Sheriff’s Office, which is leading the shooting investigation, also has not explained why the video was on tape delay.
Gunman was already at Walmart
While the tape delay might not have increased the number of casualties, it did hamper efforts to locate the gunman.
McKeone said about 20 to 25 officers were on the first, second and third floors of the school when they thought the shooter was still inside.
“Somebody would say, ‘He’s on the second floor,’ and we had guys on the second floor saying, ‘We’re on the second floor, we don’t see him.’ That’s when we figured out there’s a tape delay,” Pustizzi told the Sun Sentinel.
According to police scanner traffic from the streaming website Broadcastify, at 2:43 p.m. on February 14, police found someone to give them access to the school’s security footage.
“I got a guy here outside the building that can get cameras,” says one voice. “We’re going to go inside and go get to the cameras.”
By 2:54 p.m., police were watching the gunman, Nikolas Cruz, make his way through the building.
“They are monitoring the subject right now,” one person says. “He went from the third floor to the second floor. He may have a gas mask on now. Stand by for further. They’re monitoring him on camera.”
But the suspect had fled the building 26 minutes earlier, according to a preliminary timeline provided by the Broward County Sheriff’s Office.
By 2:50 p.m., the suspect had already bought a drink at a Subway restaurant inside a Walmart store and left on foot, four minutes before scanner traffic said the gunman was still on the second floor of the school.