PLANTATION, Fla. (AP) — A student gravely wounded while saving his classmates’ lives by blocking a door during the Florida school massacre said Friday that the county sheriff and school superintendent failed the victims by not arresting the shooter before the attack and by allowing him to attend the school.
An attorney for 15-year-old Anthony Borges read a statement from him during a news conference criticizing Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel and Superintendent Robert Runcie for the Feb. 14 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland that killed 14 students and three staff members.
Borges was shot five times, suffering wounds to the lungs, abdomen and legs. He was released from a Fort Lauderdale hospital Wednesday morning, the last of the 17 wounded to go home.
Borges, too weak to talk, sat silently in a wheelchair with his right leg propped up. His statement specifically attacked the Promise program, a school district and sheriff office initiative that allows students who commit minor crimes on campus to avoid arrest if they complete rehabilitation. Runcie has said shooting suspect Nikolas Cruz, a former Stoneman Douglas student, was never in the program, but Borges and his attorney, Alex Arreaza, said school and sheriff’s officials knew Cruz was dangerous.
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Deputies received at least a dozen calls about Cruz, 19, over the years and he spent two years in a school for children with emotional and disciplinary problems before being allowed to transfer to Stoneman Douglas. Last year, records show, he was forced to leave after incidents — other students said he abused an ex-girlfriend and fought her new boyfriend. Weeks before the shooting, both the FBI and the sheriff’s office received calls saying Cruz could become a school shooter but took no action.
Runcie and Israel “failed us students, teachers and parents alike on so many levels,” Arreaza read for Borges, who sat next to his father, Roger. “I want all of us to move forward to end the environment that allowed people like Nikolas Cruz to fall through the cracks. You knew he was a problem years ago and you did nothing. He should have never been in school with us.”
Arreaza said the family supports the efforts by Stoneman Douglas students David Hogg, Emma Gonzalez and others to end gun violence but may not always agree with their methods. Borges is a U.S. citizen born to Venezuelan immigrants.
Arreaza said that although Borges’ father, a maintenance worker, appreciates that people consider his son a hero for protecting classmates, he believes such talk detracts from the serious message that action must be taken to stop school shootings.
“He doesn’t want there to be anymore bubblegum hero stuff,” Arreaza said.
Anthony Borges visited Stoneman Douglas for the first time since the shooting Thursday but said in his statement that he is scared to return, fearing there could be more violence.
More than $830,000 has been raised for him in online donations, but Arreaza said his medical bills will likely exceed $1.5 million. The family plans to file a lawsuit soon against Cruz, the estate of his late mother and a family that housed him before the shooting. Under state law, the family can’t sue the school district and sheriff’s office until a six-month waiting period expires in August.
The sheriff’s office and school district did not return after-hours calls and emails Friday seeking comment.