PARKLAND, Fla. (AP) — Students at the Florida high school where 17 students and staff members were massacred are now carrying their belongings in clear plastic backpacks in hopes that it will make it difficult to smuggle weapons onto campus.
Officials at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School began issuing the donated backpacks to the school’s 3,200 students Monday, The Sun Sentinel reports . The students are being allowed through four monitored gates before school starts and only one after the opening bell. Soon, the district plans to issue metal-detecting wands to the law enforcement officers stationed at the gates. Sports bags and musical instrument cases are being searched.
Security has been bolstered by additional sheriff’s deputies since the school reopened two weeks after the Feb. 14 shooting. Eight highway patrol troopers were added after a student brought a knife to school, another made online threats and the brother of suspected shooter Nikolas Cruz was found skateboarding on campus.
“The process will be very similar to when you enter a sporting event, concert, or even Disney World. As a first step, we are looking to see if we can get the kids through these entrances in a timely manner,” Principal Ty Thompson said in a memo to parents. “It is very difficult to balance both convenience/privacy with safety/security; if there is more of one, the other often suffers, but I will do my best to balance the two.
The move was meant with skepticism and derision by students.
“I think it’s the illusion of security, and it’s not going to accomplish anything, except make students feel like their privacy is being violated,” junior Kyrah Simon told The Sun Sentinel.
Sophomore Kenya Warner agreed.
“I think if people want to bring weapons to school, they’ll find a way, and clear backpacks are not going to solve anything,” Warner said.
Cruz, 19, a former Stoneman Douglas student, entered campus through an open gate shortly before school ended for the day, carrying his AR-15 rifle in a bag. Investigators say video shows him carrying the bag into a classroom building, pulling out the gun and beginning his six-minute shooting spree.
His attorneys have acknowledged he is the shooter and have said he would plead guilty to murder in exchange for a life sentence. Prosecutors are seeking a death sentence.
Information from: Sun Sentinel , http://www.sun-sentinel.com/
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(Joe Cavaretta/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP & Joe Cavaretta/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP)